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March Madness, Cody Yellowstone Style

March 18th, 2019 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

I have a theory that male grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park are college basketball tournament fans.

Cody Country features both black bears and grizzlies (above).

Cody Country features both black bears and grizzlies (above).

Almost like clockwork, the male of the species emerges from hibernation right around March Madness. Females with cubs, on the other hand, emerge in April/early May, after the NCAA basketball ends.

In 2018 the first bear was spotted March 7, and the National Park Service just sent me a press release saying tracks were found March 8 between Mammoth Hot Springs and Norris Junction, but an actual bear was spotted March 11 between Canyon Village and Fishing Bridge.

Mama bears and their cubs do not emerge from their dens until April or May.

Mama bears and their cubs do not emerge from their dens until April or May.

The announcement did not mention the bear’s favorite team – I’m thinking the UCLA Bruins – but it did provide some good tips when you’re in bear country.

Here they are:

  • Prepare for a bear encounter
  • Carry bear spray, know how to use it, and make sure it’s accessible. 
  • Stay alert. 
  • Hike or ski in groups of three or more, stay on maintained trails, and make noise. Avoid hiking at dusk, dawn, or at night.
  • Do not run if you encounter a bear. 
  • Stay 100 yards away from black and grizzly bears. Use binoculars, a telescope, or telephoto lens to get a closer look.  
  • Store food, garbage, barbecue grills, and other attractants in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes.
  • Report bear sightings and encounters to a park ranger immediately.
  • Learn more about bear safety

“Yellowstone visitors care deeply about the conservation of bears and observing them in the wild,” says Kerry Gunther, the park’s bear management specialist. “Reduce human-bear conflicts by preventing bears from getting food and garbage, hiking in groups of three or more people, carrying bear spray, and making noise in blind spots on the trail.”

I listen to the experts and follow their bear guidelines every time I head to the park or on a hike in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

A wolf and a bear walk near one another in the early spring

UCLA Bruins or North Carolina State Wolf Pack?

Until next week, I am lovin’ life – and filling out my basketball pool – in Cody Yellowstone.