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For Over 75 Years


Bear Aware in Montana

Posted on 09.04.2023

Montana is Bear Country

Grizzly bear populations continue to become denser and more widespread in Montana, increasing the likelihood that residents and recreationists will encounter them in more places each year.

This time of year is when bears are active for longer periods as they consume more food in preparation for hibernation. This period overlaps with hunting season and other fall recreation activities.

Avoiding conflicts with bears is easier than dealing with conflicts. Here are some precautions to help residents, recreationists and people who work outdoors avoid negative bear encounters:

  •     Carry bear spray and be prepared to use it immediately.
  •     Make noise to alert bears to your presence and travel in groups.
  •     Stay away from animal carcasses, which often attract bears.
  •     Follow food storage orders from the applicable land management agency.
  •     If you encounter a bear, never approach it. Leave the area when it is safe to do so.
  •     Keep garbage, bird feeders, pet food and other attractants put away in a secure building. Keep garbage in a secure building until the day it is collected. Certified bear-resistant garbage containers are available in many areas.
  •     Never feed wildlife. Bears that become food conditioned lose their natural foraging behavior and pose threats to human safety. It is illegal to feed bears in Montana.

People who hunt in places that have or may have grizzly bears—which includes areas of Montana west of Billings—should take special precautions:

  •     Carry bear spray and be prepared to use it immediately.
  •     Look for bear sign and be cautious around creeks and areas with limited visibility.
  •     Hunt with a group of people. Making localized noise can alert bears to your presence.
  •     Be aware that elk calls and cover scents can attract bears.
  •     Bring the equipment and people needed to help field dress game and remove the meat from the kill site as soon as possible.
  •     If you need to leave part of the meat in the field during processing, hang it at least 10 feet off the ground and at least 150 yards from the gut pile. Leave it where it can be observed from a distance of at least 200 yards.
  •     Upon your return, observe the meat with binoculars. If it has been disturbed or if a bear is in the area, leave and call FWP.

Grizzly bears in the lower 48 states are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Management authority for grizzlies rests with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, working closely in Montana with FWP, the Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Geological Survey, Wildlife Services, and Native American tribes. This collaboration happens through the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.

For more information and resources on bear safety, visit fwp.mt.gov/bear-aware.


Snappy Sport Senter carries bear spray!

Montana WILD announces free events for “Bear Aware Month” in September

HELENA – Registration is required for these free events. To register call 406-444-9941 or email [email protected] . Please include name and age of all participants and a good contact phone number.   

  •     Bear Yoga: Wednesday, Sept. 6, 3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. 

Join us for our first ever “wildlife yoga”! This month’s yoga poses will be inspired by the annual cycle of bears. Basic yoga postures will take us from a bear waking up in spring, to going back to den in fall. This class is designed for 3–7-year-olds. Participants are welcome to bring a mat or towel, but it is not required.  


  •     Bear Story Time: Tuesday, Sept. 12, 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

This time of year, bears are busy eating as much as they can to prepare for the long, cold winter. We will read a story about bears and then play a game where we will take on the roll of bears searching for food. This program is great for young learners accompanied by an adult. 


  •     Bear Safety Skills for Families: Thursday, Sept. 21, 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. 

How can you set up a bear safe campsite? What should you do if you run into a bear on the trail? Where should you carry your bear spray, and how do you deploy it if you need to? We will go over these basics and more during this program that is great for the whole family.  


  •     Explore the Bear Safety Trailer: Tuesday, Sept. 26, 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Come visit with our bear education specialists and explore FWP’s bear safety trailer. Examine bear artifacts such as skulls, tracks, mounts and hides. Learn to use bear spray and try on different bear spray holsters. No registration required. Drop by anytime from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.  


  •     Grizzly Bear Nutritional Ecology: Thursday, Sept. 28, 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. 

Grizzly bears are not simply eating machines, gobbling up anything in their path.? Reviewing results from several recent studies in Yellowstone and beyond,?FWP Biologist, Dr. Costello, will describe the?remarkable strategies bears employ to get the most out of available foods and to use that energy to increase their fitness.? By understanding bear strategies, we can get a clearer picture of why bears are tempted by anthropogenic foods and take steps to secure our attractants and reduce human-bear conflict.  This program is geared toward students 12 and up. 

Tagged: FWP Recreation Hiking Outdoor Saftey