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Wyoming Bears are Awake…and Searching for a Free Lunch

May 3, 2010

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - The long winter nap is over, and now it's lunch time. Bears in Wyoming are emerging from hibernation, and people who live in bear country are being reminded to bear-proof their homes and neighborhoods. Monica Fella, who is a bear safety educator with the Sierra Club, says barbecue grills, pet food, trash and bird feeders are bear favorites that need to be kept out of reach.

"Try to put out garbage the morning of collection. Elevate bird feeders from eight to 10 feet, and then four feet from any vertical structure."

Fella says bears addicted to free food are labeled "problem bears," and while they can sometimes be relocated, most are put to death.

Fella says while grizzlies and black bears like easy food, they don't like people. When in the back country, she advises, carry bear pepper spray in case of a confrontation.

"Most bear encounters that we have, we don't even know about it because the bear has seen us, heard us, or smelled us before we've even become aware of them."

For wildlife watchers who want to spot bears, she says males are the first to leave the winter dens, with mothers and cubs following in a few weeks.

More tips on bear-proofing homes and neighborhoods are available at

Deb Courson, Public News Service - WY