Grizzly bears have been sighted near Schweitzer Mountain Resort, the Spokesman Review recently reported. Idaho Panhandle-area residents can expect a greater chance of coming into contact with bears as the Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak grizzly bear populations continue to slowly recover.

We recommend taking the following precautions when recreating in the backcountry:

  • Carry bear spray when you go out in the woods. Bear spray is over 92% effective at deterring bear attacks when properly deployed. In comparison, fire arms are 76% effective at deterring bear attacks.
  • Recreating in groups of three or more will reduce your chances of a bear encounter. Make noise. Especially in locations where visibility is limited or natural sounds, such as flowing streams, can muffle the sounds of your presence.
  • When you go car camping, store food, cosmetics, and other attractants in your car or inside a bear-proof storage locker if one is available at your campsite. Do not burn your trash or food. The odors will remain detectable to bears and attract them into your campsite.
  • If you are going backpacking, then store food, cosmetics or other attractants in a certified bear-proof container at least 100 yards from your campsite. Alternatively, you can hang attractants at least ten feet high and four feet horizontally from any vertical structure, but please note that hanging attractants is less effective than storing them in a bear proof container.
  • Hunters should keep game meat at least half a mile from campsites and trails.

Whether you live in or out of town, residents of the Idaho Panhandle should also take precautions to minimize unwanted conflicts with both grizzly and back bears at home:

  • Keep trash locked inside your garage or in a bear-proof dumpster.
  • Use electric fencing around orchards, gardens, compost, and livestock.