By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Grand Teton National Park officials are doing their best to keep bears and humans from encountering each other (at least, for now) in the park as bears begin to wake from hibernation.
A portion of the east-facing slope of 25 Short is closed until further notice to prevent potential conflict between a denning grizzly bear and skiers.
Direct access across the summit ridgeline to Turkey Chute, Chute the Moon and other routes to Avalanche Canyon is open. This area is routinely accessed from the Taggart Lake Trailhead.
Bears are beginning to emerge from hibernation. Approximately 50% of adult male grizzly bears are awake by mid-March and females with young usually emerge anytime between April and mid-May.
Bears will be looking for food, including winter-killed carcasses in avalanche paths and other areas.
Backcountry skiers are encouraged to be alert, aware of the surrounding area, and carry bear spray. Black and grizzly bears may be located anywhere within the park, including developed areas.
All park visitors should carry bear spray and maintain a minimum of 100 yards from bears and wolves, and 25 yards from other wildlife.
No bars have been reported in the park so far, but Yellowstone National Park reported its first bear sighting last weekend. On Saturday, a pilot supporting park wildlife studies observed a grizzly from the air.
The pilot saw the bear interact with wolves at a carcass in the northern part of the park.
While this is the first bear sighting of 2021 in Yellowstone, tracks have been seen on several occasions in the last two weeks. This comes almost one week later than the first sighting of 2020, which occurred on March 7.