Like most of the country, the mild winter in the Rocky Mountains means that the grizzlies are emerging even earlier than usual.
The Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks officials have issued a warning to all hikers and backcountry fanatics: be aware that the grizzlies are coming out now.
Of the nine bears in the area of the Rocky Mountain Front, eight were already awake and the female bears were moving to river drainages eastward, according to the Missoulian.
This is so rare because normally, bears don’t begin to leave their dens typically until late April and early May, especially near the Rocky Mountain Front. However, this mild winter is leading officials to caution those who typically frequent this area.
With this focus group of eight of nine bears waking early, the park officials also warn that it is a small snapshot of what the larger grizzlies population is probably doing, also.
Bears typically awaken when the snow melt around their dens disappears and sunlight can reach inside the den. Because there was little snowfall on the Continental Divide this year, that sunshine is reaching the bears a lot earlier than normal.
Officials also warn residents to consider removing bird feeders already and to avoid leaving garbage out at night, pieces of advice that normally don’t come until May.