Nap time is over: Grizzlies emerging from dens around Montana
It’s been an unseasonably warm February in many parts of Montana, and while it’s not yet spring, signs of spring are beginning to pop up around the state.
Or, should we say, wake up.
Grizzly bears must’ve felt the warmth lately, as bears have been spotted wide awake and wondering around places like Yellowstone National Park. As the Billings Gazette reported last week:
The first confirmed report of grizzly bear activity in Yellowstone occurred on Monday. A grizzly bear was observed late in the afternoon, scavenging on a bison carcass in the central portion of the park.
With bears emerging from hibernation, hikers, skiers and snowshoers are advised to stay in groups of three or more, make noise on the trail and carry bear spray. The same advice goes for those taking guided snowmobile trips in Yellowstone.
Bears begin looking for food soon after they emerge from their dens. They are attracted to elk and bison that have died during the winter. Carcasses are an important enough food source that bears will sometimes react aggressively when surprised while feeding on them.
That point was proven with the above photo from Yellowstone of a big bear feeding a bison carcass. Yellowstone National Park posted the photo on its Facebook page, crediting Angela Trinka for the photo.
Park officials noted the warm weather in a press release about the grizzlies. The release shared safety rules about watching bears in the park and noted that anyone who spots a bear should alert park officials ASAP.
Have you met Brutus the Bear?
I’d heard about Brutus the Bear a couple times before I was fully introduced to him in the March/April issue of Montana Magazine. The first time I ran across his name was when he showed up inside Washington-Grizzly stadium in Missoula and because he learned to swim in swimming pool in Helena.
He really is an unusual bear. And, as it turns out, so is his best friend. Writer Corinne Garcia profiled Montanan Casey Anderson and his quest to educate people about wildlife like grizzly bears in her great piece for us.
Anderson grew up in Helena and after years working with and tracking wildlife, became the host of his own National Geographic Channel show America the Wild.
As for Brutus (who was rescued by Anderson in 2002), he’s found a home at Anderson’s Montana Grizzly Encounter outside Bozeman. If you get a chance, maybe you can go visit him.
For now, here’s a little more about Brutus the bear:
- Age: 12
- Demeanor: Laid back, cool, charismatic, charming. “He’s like a hot surfer dude of a grizzly bear,” caretaker and best friend Casey Anderson said.
- Favorite place to hang out: In his customized travel trailer, complete with air conditioning, with his buddies at Montana Grizzly Encounter, or on Anderson’s Paradise Valley property.
- Best Bear Pals: Lucy, 3, his girlfriend, and Sheena, 27. “When he first met Lucy, she was intimidated, and he just laid there until she came over to him,” Anderson said. “They’ve been together ever since.”
- Favorite Foods: The bears at Montana Grizzly Encounter eat a diet that’s comprised of 80 percent fruits and vegetables. But Brutus’ all-time favorite meal is sockeye salmon and avocados, and cake on his birthday.
- Typical Day: Likes to sleep in late (like a typical teenager) in his private denning area (cave). He tends to interact with any of the other bears that are out and about then. “It’s like a soap opera sometimes,” Anderson said. “Every bear loves him and wants to hang out with him, and he’s the only bear they all love.”