Montana’s fall hunting season is set to begin and the state cautions those planning to venture afield: “Expect to see bears.”
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks explained in a news release that the grizzly bear population has grown significantly in the western two-thirds of the state (west of Billings).
“Some areas with dense concentrations of grizzly bears are very accessible to hunters, especially during the archery season,” FWP stated.
Several big-game archery seasons open Saturday.
Grizzly bear image courtesy of ©Pete Thomas
Since hunters often trek deep into the wilderness, chance encounters with grizzly bears, and potentially deadly attacks, are bound to occur.
FWP advises hunters to carry bear spray and “be prepared to use it immediately.”
Hunters are urged to “consider hunting elsewhere” if fresh signs of bear activity are present, and to travel in small groups.
“This can help you make casual noise to alert bears to your presence, and it may also increase your chances survival in the event of a bear attack,” FWP stated.
If a deer, elk, or other large animal is killed, hunters should “process [the] carcass and get it out of the field as quickly as possible.”
FWP is hoping that hunters will exercise extreme caution to avoid surprising grizzly bears at close range. Last September, four hunters were mauled in three separate incidents within a period of only eight days.
Grizzly bears, a federally threatened species that cannot be hunted, are actively feeding in advance of winter.
–Top image is courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service