JACKSON – Wyoming Game and Fish officials are asking residents to do their part to avoid conflicts with wildlife in residential areas this fall, particularly moose and bears. The Jackson Game and Fish office typically starts receiving an increased number of calls this time of year from concerned citizens about wildlife in residential areas, especially moose and bears. This has prompted wildlife officials to offer advice on how to avoid problems with these animals.
“We typically get a number of moose calls this time of year because it’s the breeding season, the bulls are starting to travel a lot in pursuit of cows and they tend to start rubbing their antlers on whatever they can find,” said Aly Courtemanch, Jackson Wildlife Biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. “Consequently, we get reports of bull moose with a variety of things wrapped around their antlers, including fencing, rope swings, wind chimes, Christmas lights, lawn furniture, hammocks and so on.”
Wildlife officials are asking residents to be aware of this possibility and remove anything on their property that these animals may become entangled in. Also, it is recommended that people keep their distance from these animals as they can become agitated and defensive during the breeding season. “Generally, these animals are not going to pose a threat to anyone as long as we control our pets around them and generally give them their space,” said Courtemanch. “However, if an animal is charging people or posing a threat, we want to know about it and we will respond.”
Wildlife officials acknowledge that wildlife, such as moose, can be potentially dangerous and offer these tips to avoid a conflict:
- Be especially watchful during times of low light. Moose can be difficult to see at night.
- Never crowd an animal or surround it. Always allow an animal an easy escape route.
- Always control pets while walking them and make sure there are no wildlife around before letting animals out of the house.
- View and photograph animals from a distance.
- Avoid feeding wildlife as it often attracts wildlife into conflict situations (i.e. roads, fences, landscaping, pets, etc.)
Similarly, Game and Fish officials are also asking residents to avoid potential conflicts with bears by keeping all bear attractants unavailable. “We have been receiving an increasing number of reports of black bears being seen in developed areas around Jackson,” said Jackson Large Carnivore Biologist Mike Boyce. “As natural foods begin to dry up, bears commonly start showing up in developed areas this time of year. While bears may just be passing through, it’s important they do not get any food rewards, such as improperly stored garbage, that would encourage them to stay.”
Residents are reminded to not put their garbage out the night before pickup and to store garbage and bird feeders properly as per Teton County regulations. The Teton County Land Development Regulation, passed in 2009, applies specifically to identified bear conflict priority areas within the county, but all residents are encouraged to follow the regulations. Garbage is required to be stored in certified bear resistant containers or in a secure building or enclosure at all times. All bird feeders are to be hung with a catch pan, at least 10 feet from the ground, deck railing or patio and 4 feet away from any tree, post, or support structure.
Wyoming Game and Fish bear managers have been responding to bear sightings and visiting with property owners to ensure bear attractants are properly stored to prevent conflicts. Allowing bears to get a food reward conditions them to associate people with food, which may lead to dangerous or destructive behaviors. “By immediately reporting incidents, we can address the cause of the conflict and hopefully prevent future problems,” says Boyce. “Public safety is always going to be our highest priority, and if informed right away, we have more options in dealing with a problem bear.”