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Living with Wildlife

FishSmart

The Living with Wildlife column is published monthly in the Rocky Mountain Outlook to create awareness of living with wildlife challenges. We also work with local newspapers, radio and television stations to promote wildlife safety issues through the media on a weekly basis.

Anglers move cautiously, silently, and often alone along the riverbanks aspiring to catch the worlds biggest fish. Bears also navigate the waters, though likely with less lofty goals! Avoiding areas indicating signs of bear presence, making noise, fishing in groups, and properly handling caught fish will all reduce the chance of an unexpected encounter.

Every fisherman and woman on the water is immersed in the serenity provided by the scenery and the sounds of the water as it tumbles over rocks, against float tubes and around their legs. They scan the water for where the fish are hiding and scheme on how to get close without splashing too much or casting a formidable shadow over their hiding place. It is easy to get lost in thought and forget that there may be bears in the area, until a bear splashes it’s front paws in the water from the opposite river bank, or emerges from the trees a few yards away.

Steps to reduce the chances of such bear encounters closely resemble hiking precautions, with a few modifications. The first set of precautions involve bear avoidance. Avoid areas where bears have been sighted or where bear signs such as scat or claw marks exist. Fish in groups and keep track of children at all times. Make noise, especially when line of sight is compromised, or when walking into the wind. Whistles, air horns, and shouting will all do the job. Of course, the noise may deter the fish as well as the bears. Those who choose to remain quiet must be extra vigilant when moving through such blind spots.

The second set of precautions involve removing bear attractants. Fish are smelly. Thus, clean fish far away from camp, store the fish in sealed plastic bags, and wash well. Do not throw guts on the shoreline, as it will attract bears in the area. Finally, pack out all garbage in sealed plastic bags. These steps will help remove/contain fishy smells that might attract hungry bears. Finally, keep bear spray readily accessible in the event of an encounter.

Angler-bear encounters are more likely in the fall with bears roaming the shores in search of berries, so be careful. Employing these precautions will make fishing a safer activity for humans and bears alike.

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Residents are encouraged to report any sightings of bear, cougar or aggressive elk to 403-591-7755. For all public safety emergencies call 9-1-1.

 

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