By Kyle Kissock, Communications Manager
As the town of Jackson welcomes the return of yellowing cottonwoods and frosty mornings, we also enter another season of animals on the move. With the chance for large wildlife encounters improving daily, fall’s imminence is an opportunity for us to reflect on how our actions can continue to foster a wildlife-friendly landscape. What better place to start than reminder to be “Bear Wise?”
Bear Wise Wyoming (and Bear Wise Jackson Hole) are collaborative educational campaigns that offer solutions to avoiding human-bear conflict. Both grizzly and black bears enter hyperphagia in the fall, packing on calories in preparation for hibernation. Not only does this mean that bears will be foraging at lower elevations closer to human habitation, but increases the potential for risk-taking behavior in bears, as already opportunistic species morphs into an especially gluttonous eating machines. As human residents of bear country, simple ways we can do our part include:
- Properly storing garbage either in bear-resistant cans or inside a building until morning pickup.
- Storing odorous, recyclable containers indoors.
- Cleaning up unsightly grill detritus and food waste after barbeques and picnics in our yards and amazing public parks.
- Not leaving pet food outside.
- Remember that putting feed out for wildlife violates city ordinance.
- Encouraging our neighbors to do all of the above
Teton County has outlined Bear Conflict Priority Areas for the town of Jackson and strict garbage storage is mandated for certain areas including the West Bank and Cache Creek area. If you are unsure of the Conflict Priority Area where you live, you can access a map on the Teton County website. However, while the probability of a bear encounter might be higher in certain neighborhoods (last year there were 32 verified reports of human-black bear conflict in East Jackson during a two week stretch in October), it is unrealistic to expect bears to limit their fall foraging to politically convenient areas. Furthermore, as grizzlies continue to thrive and expand their ranges to the fringes of this ecosystem, the possibility of grizzly encounters around Jackson remains.
Staying “Bear Wise” this fall mitigates human-bear conflicts and has a byproduct of helping guard against habituation of other smaller scavengers like foxes, ravens and coyotes. Whether it’s a bear or a migrating ungulate that ambles through your neighborhood this shoulder season, we challenge you to be continually intentional in your actions to keep our town creature-friendly, and Jackson a role-model for wildlife-minded communities across the West.
Happy fall wildlife watching!