Hey we have bears too! 5 safety tips for Black Bear country

(Natrona County, Wyo.)- Have you heard all the moans and groans about de-listing or re-listing grizzly bears in Wyoming? It has been hard not to, unless you have been hibernating all winter with the bears. We wanted to give Natrona County's *Ursus americanus *the, America Black Bears, some love and attention, so we spoke with WGFD's 'bear guru'. ​Dusty Lasseter, Wyoming Game and Fish Bear Wise Coordinator from the Cody Region, spoke to a handful of community members at the Game and Fish office Tuesday night about living and recreating in large carnivore areas. Lasseter has worked for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for seven years and he has helped to capture around seventy bears in Wyoming, so we could say he is a bit of a bear guru. "Wyoming has two species of bears; the black bear and the grizzly bear. If you spot a polar bear in Wyoming, don't come to us, then we have bigger problems to deal with!" ​He went on to show the differences between a black bear and a grizzly bear in the wild: *Black Bears* - No muscle back hump - Straight face - Tall pointed ears - Short curved claws *Grizzly Bears* - Back hump of muscle - Dished face - Short rounded ears - Long claws Lasseter stated that the color and size of a bear can be very deceiving and is not a recommended way of identification. Lucky for us, (in Natrona County) we only have to worry about black bears while out hiking Casper Mountain! Lasseter provided 5 best practices to prevent bear encounters while out Spring hiking: 1. Don't recreate alone, always have a 'bear buddy'. 2. Stay on the main trails, don't cut through berry patches or bear feeding areas. 3. Make noise while hiking, like sing a hiking song. 4. Be alert, remember to be Bear Aware! 5. Look for bear signs; scat, tracks, digging, claw marks. If you do encounter a bear: 1. Stop, remain calm. 2. Access the situation and talk quietly to the bear. 3. Slowly walk away, never making direct eye contact with the bear/ 4. Go back the way you came in. 5. Never run away or turn your back. Lasseter commented that during 99% of bear encounters, the bear will leave the area, but you don't want to be that 1% that faces an aggressive bear. To learn more about bear safety or black bears in the area, contact the Wyoming Game and Fish Department-Casper Region at (307) 473-3400. ​ #oilcity #news