A sign of spring in the Clearwater Region is hungry bears. Idaho is home to an abundant black bear population and a smaller number of grizzly bears. Although Idaho’s known grizzly bear populations are in the northern Panhandle and the Greater Yellowstone Area in eastern Idaho, it’s possible that grizzly bears may turn up in the Clearwater Region where people aren’t expecting them. In the past few years, young grizzly bears have roamed hundreds of miles from their home ranges to find new territories, including some sightings in the Clearwater.
“We want to make sure that hunters in north-central Idaho are extra-vigilant while afield, both while traveling to their hunting spots, and in identifying their targets,” said Jon Rachael, state wildlife manager for Fish and Game.
If you’re heading out for black bear hunting this spring, please make sure you know the key differences between black and grizzly bears (and take the ID quiz). Remember it’s illegal to kill a grizzly bear except in self-defense. A great precaution is to carry an approved bear pepper spray and be prepared to use it, in case of chance bear encounters that may go awry.
As another reminder, if you plan to use bait for black bear hunting, check the rules about whether bait is allowed where you plan to hunt. If bait is allowed in your hunt area, you need to have a bait permit as well as a black bear tag, and you need to know what restrictions apply to types of bait, containers, and bait placement. Placing baits away from trails or other areas where people are likely to frequent is one way to reduce conflicts with other outdoor users.
Check here for more black bear hunting information: https://idfg.idaho.gov/hunt/big-game/black-bear.
Bear baiting and use of hounds is not allowed in some parts of the state, including the Panhandle’s Unit 1 and some eastern Idaho units where grizzly bear densities are high. Where baiting is allowed, it can give hunters an advantage of more observation time than in spot-and-stalk hunting—longer observation time should provide additional certainty that a target is a black bear the hunter can legally take. It’s illegal to kill grizzly bears or female black bears accompanied by young.
Visit the Idaho Fish and Game bear info webpage for more black and grizzly bear conservation and management information.
If you have questions regarding bear hunting or would like report a grizzly bear sighting contact one of the Idaho Fish and Game regional offices. Idaho Fish and Game wants to hear from hunters and wishes everyone a very safe and successful spring season!