KALISPELL - Hunting season is underway in Montana, and with the abnormal amount of bear activity this year, hunters will want to be extra cautious when heading into the backcountry.
Hunters are being asked to especially focus on storing food and harvested game while in camp.
Wildlife officials say game should be hung at least 10 feet in the air and four feet out from any tree or pole. If that is not possible, store the carcass at least a ½ mile from camp. While bears may approach camps, there is a high possibility of seeing them in the woods while stalking game or dressing a kill.
“So it's wise not to panic and not react. Talk softly to the bear and make yourself known. If you can slowly back up, make sure the bears aware that you're not a threat. It's good to have a defensive tool nearby. Bear spray is an excellent defensive tool because it's simple to use and very accurate in a pinch,” said Flathead National Forest Wildlife Biologist Mark Ruby.
Other tips for hunters:
- Hunt in pairs to have a lookout when dressing game
- Be aware of surprising a bear while silently looking for game
- Notice smells and scavengers in case a bear is feeding on a carcass
- When approaching your kill, make noise to alert a bear of your presence
- Be prepared to use whatever defensive tool necessary in a bear encounter
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has additional information about how to "Be Bear Aware" on its website.