HELENA – Montana Gov.Steve Bullock and Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney joined Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) at the State Capitol lawn to encourage people to be bear aware this coming Memorial Day weekend.
“Memorial Day is sort of the start of the summer and with beautiful weather more and more people will be getting out into the woods,” said Bullock. “So we’re just encouraging people to be safe when they get outdoors this weekend.”
Both the governor and lieutenant governor demonstrated how to use bear spray at the event.
FWP officials say bear spray can be used to protect a person from not only bears, but any other large animal like moose.
Montana WILD Education Program manager Laurie Wolf recommends people familiarize themselves with the spray cans before going out.
“When you get a can of bear spray it’s a good idea to practice taking off the tab a few times,” says Wolf.
In a non-hunting situation FWP advocates the use of bear spray over firearms as a deterrent.
“The research is showing now that it’s just much more effective,” said Wolf. “When you’re in a bear encounter, your stress level goes up considerably. With bear spray you just have to worry about getting it out there, rather than getting a kill shot with an object that’s moving at you sometimes up to 30 mph.”
Bullock said the best thing people can do is educate themselves on what to do in a bear situation and be prepared.
“We live in a place like this to enjoy the outdoors, but we also need to make sure we bring along our common sense,” said Bullock.
Cooney added that living in Montana means encountering a bear can happen anywhere at any time.
“If you’re out anywhere in the country where there’s any chance of running into a bear it’s really good practice just to have bear spray,” said Cooney.
There have been several bear attacks in Montana over the last year, the most recent being a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worker south of Libby.
For more information about bear safety visit here.