Hunters in most of Montana must be grizzly bear aware. Grizzly bears have the potential to be found anywhere in the western two-thirds of Montana (west of Billings), and their distribution is denser and more widespread than in previous years.

Some areas with dense concentrations of grizzly bears are very accessible to hunters, especially during the archery season. Hunters must keep these precautions in mind when hunting in grizzly country:

•Carry and know how to use bear spray. Keep it within easy reach and be prepared to use it immediately.

•Stay alert, especially when hearing or visibility is limited. Watch for environmental indicators of recent bear activity. If there is abundant fresh sign of grizzly bears in the area, consider hunting elsewhere. Let other hunters know when bears and/or fresh sign are observed.

•Travel and hunt in groups whenever possible. This can help you make casual noise to alert bears to your presence, and it may also increase your chances survival in the event of a bear attack.

•Follow all food storage regulations. Contact the applicable land management agency (U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, etc.) to learn what food storage rules apply where you’re hunting.

•Avoid carcass sites and concentrations of ravens and other scavengers.

•Carry the equipment you need to process a carcass and get it out of the field as quickly as possible.

For more tips on staying safe in bear country, visit Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Bear Aware web page.