As grizzly bears disperse across the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem during the summer, it’s important to host bear safety refreshers throughout the ecosystem. The Greater Yellowstone Coalition’s Idaho field office teamed up with Idaho Fish and Game, Mountain Bike the Tetons, and Teton Valley Trails and Pathways to bring the mechanical bear “Charger” back to Teton Valley.
The Greater Yellowstone Coalition focuses on three critical goals when it comes to grizzly bears: protecting core habitat, connecting Greater Yellowstone grizzlies to populations further north, and reducing human/bear conflicts. Over the past four years, we’ve achieved an enormous amount of on-the-ground improvements that are keeping bears alive and people safe.
With the goal of educating early season trail users, like adventurous mountain bikers and seasoned hikers, we hosted Idaho Fish and Game’s bear biologist, Jeremy Nicholson, at GYC’s Driggs location for “Beers and Bears.” Jeremy gave an informative presentation about what bears are doing in the early season, what to do if you see a bear, and how to keep yourself – and the bears – safe at this critical time. Bears are extremely hungry after a long winter, and they can become aggressive and/or defensive while guarding their cubs or a food source.
The Driggs office was packed with recreationists eager to learn more about bears and practice their quick draw skills on the “Charger.” The “Charger” simulates a bear charge and allows people to practice deploy inert bear spray. After Jeremy’s talk, the group migrated next door to local hangout, the Yeti’s Post, for beers, snacks, a campfire, and to take their chances with the mechanical bear.
A big thank you to all the partners who worked together to make this awesome event happen: Idaho Fish and Game, Mountain Bike the Tetons, Teton Valley Trails and Pathways, and Yeti’s Post! We were overwhelmed by the community’s interest in this event and will be sure to host another soon.
To learn more about safe recreation in bear country, visit the National Park Service’s website or contact us.
-Allison Michalski, Idaho Conservation Associate