Apr 19, 2016

Grizzly tracks spotted in Peaks northeast of Cody; Heart Mountain trail closed

After spotting grizzly bear tracks on the west side of the McCullough Peaks, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is asking people to be “bear aware” when recreating in the area.

It's an area, northeast of Cody, where the Game and Fish doesn't expect to see grizzlies.

The McCullough Peaks. File photo courtesy Bureau of Land Management
“This is another indication of a healthy and recovered grizzly population,” Bear Wise Wyoming Coordinator Dusty Lasseter said in a Tuesday news release from the department. “As grizzly bear populations continue to grow and increase in distribution, people should be aware that they may see bears in areas they normally would not expect to see bears.”

Lasseter said it's “imperative” for people to report grizzly bear conflicts and activity — especially when near residential areas — to Game and Fish.

“This is the time year when we typically see increasing black bear and grizzly bear activity at lower elevations in areas surrounding Cody,” Lasseter said. “Outdoor enthusiasts are reminded to be bear aware and take preventative action to avoid conflicts with bears.”

Meanwhile, the Nature Conservancy separately announced that bear activity in the area has prompted it to temporarily close the Heart Mountain Ranch Preserve to hiking. Conservancy staff will be monitoring the Heart Mountain trail for signs of bears and reopen it when there seems to be less activity.

The Nature Conservancy made a similar decision last year, closing the trail in mid-April and re-opening it about a month later.

As a general rule, the Game and Fish Department says outdoorsmen should watch for bear tracks, scat and diggings. Hikers, fishermen, antler hunters, or anyone else recreating in areas that could be occupied by bears should take precautions, travel in groups and carry a deterrent like bear spray, the department advises.

“We thank the public for their cooperation and support, and acknowledge the efforts of residents and visitors of Park County toward grizzly bear recovery,” Lasseter said in Tuesday's release.

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