With more people in bear country, wildlife biologists plead with the public to properly store food | Open Spaces

Both biologists also stressed that black bears aren’t generally dangerous if they’re not habituated to food.

For anyone living or playing in Wyoming’s mountains, Knox and Thompson offered a series of advice on how to keep yourself – and bears – safe the rest of this summer and fall.

Call if you see a bear near humans or food

Many people believe if they call wildlife officials about a black bear, the bear will be killed on the spot, Thompson said. That’s just not the case. “None of us wants to catch a bear and kill it,” Thompson said. “But once a bear becomes food conditioned, really food conditioned, we don’t have any options.” Don’t wait a week or more to call biologists about a bear wandering in rural neighborhoods, getting into bird feeders or campsites. If biologists catch bears early, they can help people secure food and vehicles and hopefully the bear will move on to better habitat.

Keep food inside

Store any food including dog food, snacks, meat and vegetables in vehicles or other bear-proof containers. People recreating in grizzly bear country might be used to properly storing food, but those outside of the northwest corner should also be aware, Knox said. Bears can open coolers, garbage bags and plastic tubs.

Store food in vehicles (and lock the doors)