Press Release

A Different Kind of Meat and Potatoes

Humans aren't the only ones who know that fall is harvest season, so do the bears.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has been receiving numerous reports of increased grizzly bear activity around the Henrys Fork and its tributaries as it drops out of Island Park.

According to Senior Conservation Officer Charlie Anderson, "We've got grizzlies getting into everything from seed spuds in the fields outside of Ashton to apple trees in people's yards south of Highway 32 near Conant Creek."

This type of bear activity is not unheard of at this time of year, but in certain areas of the Upper Snake Region it is important for even those not heading into the woods to remember that there is a potential for bears in search of "natural" foods to visit areas close to humans at certain times like during the fall harvest.

Before bears enter into hibernation, they go through a period where they try to gain as much weight as possible. The Latin term for this time is "hyperphagia" and basically means to pig out. Bears are incredible omnivores and will seek out a surprising diversity of foods in order to gain the needed stored energy to survive the winter. Certain grizzly bears in the Yellowstone Ecosystem actually gain much of their needed winter weight by gorging on up to 40,000 army cutworm moths per day. These moths head to mate on the high talus slopes east of Yellowstone National Park and are among the bear's highest calorie food.

It is important that anyone living in bear country not only keep their garbage stored properly, but makes sure that natural food attractants like windfall fruit are kept picked up. Even keeping an immaculate orchard is no guarantee of preventing problems, numerous reports exist of bears climbing into trees to pick apples or breaking off limbs. Making sure that bears are not surprised by humans is a good first step in reducing conflict. Turning on yard lights and making lots of noise are also good ways to alert a bear of your presence.

To learn more about safety in bear country visit igbconline.org.