What do you know about sharing our wild spaces with bears, wolves & mountain lions?
Last Saturday I attended the Wyoming Game & Fish’s Bear, Lion & Wolf Seminar here in Laramie. My goal was to put aside what I ‘thought’ I knew about these animals and really try to learn something new. I wasn’t disappointed, it was a great seminar and I highly recommend attending one.
Here are a few things that I learned:
1) Mountain Lions are obligate carnivores, meaning that they must eat meat to survive. When they kill an animal, they eat the organs first (since they are the best source of nutrients) then stash the rest of their kill in a cache feasting on it for a few days.
2) Mountain Lion kittens only have a 60-70% survival rate. Less than half of them make it to adulthood. The odds are not in their favor.
3) Deer are the primary prey for mountain lions in the state of Wyoming. Where there are deer, there are mountain lions.
4) Sometimes mountain lions like to feast on domestic kittens (ewww).
5) Aggressive mountain lion behavior is a lion with flat ears, showing it’s teeth, snarling & hissing. If you’re being attacked, stand your ground, keep the animal in front of you, don’t take your eyes off of the lion and let him know that you’re a threat.
6) Wolves can travel, and they travel far. Last year one collared female traveled over 3,000 miles through 3 states. While they technically aren’t in our area (SE Wyoming & Northern Colorado), they really could show up anywhere because of their high dispersal rate.
7) It is extremely rare to be attacked and killed by a wolf but if you are it’s important to act aggressively, look big and fight back (just like with mountain lions).
8) Grizzly bears in northern Wyoming are doing well, juvenile males on the fringe of their range disperse the furthest.
9) In places where grizzly & black bears co-exist black bears tend to move around more during the day, even though both species are typically more active from dusk/dawn.
10) We know that bears will eat things like garbage, food and even toothpaste and bug spray but they have been known to also sample white gas so it’s important to hang that in the backcountry as well.
11) There’s some concern about the bark beetle killing pines and ruining a good food source for the grizzly. At this seminar the discussion centered around the fact that bears are good at finding new food sources, they’ll eat anything.
12) It’s really hard to identify bears (at least it is for me) but if you’re being charged by a black bear, yell, scream and fight but give them their space. If you’re being charged by a grizzly lay on your stomach, cover your neck, and leave your pack on. It’s important that a grizzly knows that you aren’t a threat.
13) You can spray your bear spray right from the holster, spray it towards the ground and let it billow up because the bear will put it’s head down as it charges.
The presenters at this seminar recommended the following resources for more information (these are affiliate links).
Have you attended a seminar or workshop on bears, wolves or mountain lions? What did you learn or find interesting about these amazing animals?