Photo courtesy of Yellowstone National Park

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — On Tuesday, March 7, a Yellowstone National Park wildlife biologist on a radio telemetry flight observed the first grizzly bear of 2023 to emerge from hibernation.

The adult bear, estimated at 300–350 pounds, was seen near the remains of a bison carcass in Pelican Valley in the central eastern part of the park.

The first bear sighting of 2022 also occurred on March 7.

Male grizzlies come out of hibernation in early March. Females with cubs emerge in April and early May, according to park officials.

When bears emerge from hibernation, they look for food and often feed on elk and bison that died over the winter. Sometimes, bears will react aggressively to encounters with people when feeding on carcasses.

“Spring visitors skiing, snowshoeing, or hiking in Yellowstone National Park are reminded to carry bear spray and be especially alert for bears near carcasses and areas with early spring green-up. These are the first foods sought out by grizzlies after emerging from hibernations,” said Kerry Gunther, the park’s bear management biologist.

All of Yellowstone National Park is bear country, from the deepest backcountry to the boardwalks around Old Faithful. The park restricts certain visitor activities in locations where there is a high density of bears, along with elk and bison carcasses.

Restrictions will begin in some bear management areas on March 10.

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