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Bear scares tied to weather pattern

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Bear encounters are on the rise in Utah this summer, with the latest report out of Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Division of Wildlife biologists have received 26 reports regarding bears this summer, which is double the number this time last year.

Young bears are getting kicked out of their territories by their mothers as they prepare for new cubs. Young bears often follow their noses, and the track the scent of food. 

“These are younger bears that are showing up in peoples yards, they are looking for new territory,” Scott Root of the Division of Wildlife says. 

The other major factor for an uptick in bear encounters is the weather pattern. Heading into hibernation, the about 3500 adult bears in the state faced severe drought conditions and woke up to something completely different this spring. 

“We had a dry year this year, bears went into their dens more lean than normal, they emerged later than normal after a heavy winter and wet spring, so they are bolder in looking for food sources,” Scott Root of the Division of Wildlife said Monday.

The weather pattern has supported hungrier bears, so this is the year to stay odorless in the backcountry.  There has been an increased number of bears getting into garbage and rummaging in campsites this year. DWR has also said this is happening because the public is not properly securing food and garbage in their backyards and while camping.

This is the time of year those who go out camping and those who live in any canyons or foothills to “bear-proof” their food and garbage.

Black bears, according to DWR, are the only native bear species currently in Utah, and they have an amazing sense of smell. If you encounter the animal in the wild, stay clam and stand tall.

“You want to raise your arms and appear much bigger, and make a lot of noise. Shout, scream, but go away bear, say it loud,” Scott Root of the Division of Wildlife says. 

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