Do Your Part to Keep Our Landscapes Safe for Bears and People

Resource pages:
FOR RECREATIONISTS // FOR LANDOWNERS // FOR VISITORS // FOR COMMUNITIES

Get to Know Grizzlies and Bear Safety

Staying safe around bears requires first understanding them. Like all living things, bears are fundamentally motivated to survive and reproduce. Many of the conflicts people have with them stem from bears trying to access food or acting defensively to protect themselves and their offspring. This means we can increase our chances of coexisting peacefully with grizzlies if we secure any potential food sources or attractants that might bring bears near people while also taking precautions to avoid surprising or aggravating a bear while we’re moving through their habitat. 

Vital Ground’s Bear Safety Hub features the pages linked above, where you can learn more about helping bears and people stay safe as a recreationist, landowner/agricultural producer, short-term visitor or community organization in grizzly country. For guidance on how to make your presence known and reduce the odds of triggering a defensive response, see the resource page for recreationists

Map of grizzly bear current and historic rangesWhile it’s always good to take safety precautions, you might be wondering how to tell if you’re in an area with grizzly presence and need to be extra mindful of bear-aware guidance. In addition to the historic map at right, this detailed map shows their current distribution, but as a wide-roaming species that’s been expanding its range in recent years, it’s best to assume grizzlies could be anywhere in the Northern Rockies and surrounding landscapes. You can also look for these signs of bear activity or check with local wildlife managers for the most updated reports.

There are many tools in the conflict-prevention toolbox but an essential for anyone living or passing through grizzly country is bear spray. When used properly, bear spray can prevent encounters from turning deadly for both people and bears. 

Conflict-Prevention for Conservation

Brown bear and cubs
As a recovering species, preventing conflicts is essential to helping ensure grizzlies remain on this landscape.

Preventing injuries and fatalities is crucial to the long-term conservation of this iconic species, and our well-being as people who have the privilege of living alongside them. Many grizzly mortalities are caused by humans because, just like bears, fear can prompt us to act defensively and cause irreversible harm. 

Adapting to life alongside these powerful animals isn’t always easy, but it’s worth the effort. Our shared landscapes are healthier, more abundant and more inspiring with grizzlies on them. Building social tolerance and habitat for bears is just as important as protecting their physical habitat, which is why we’ve created the Bear Safety Hub to help you navigate all topics related to conflict prevention and coexistence. You can learn more about Vital Ground’s conservation values and mission here.

If you have questions not currently covered on the hub, please email us anytime at info@vitalground.org or check out this link dispelling common myths. While this advice is based on years of research and lived experiences, following it is not a guarantee of your safety. It’s important to remember that bear encounters are incredibly rare and that there are both inherent risks and rewards to living and recreating in grizzly country.

Thank you for doing your part and spreading the word about the importance of bear safety. With people from all walks of life sharing in the work of coexistence, we can continue to live alongside these impressive creatures for generations to come!

Help advance grizzly conservation with a contribution to Vital Ground…