Yellowstone National Park is trying to increase the number of people carrying bear spray and Jeff Bridges wants to help. The actor and part-time Montana resident joins the “A Bear Doesn’t Care” campaign, which began in 2016, by appearing in a new poster stressing the importance of safety in bear country.
“I wanted to get involved with Yellowstone because I care deeply about bears,” said Jeff Bridges. “As hikers, backpackers, anglers, and photographers, we all need to carry bear spray and know how to use it -- no excuses!”
In 2016, data collected by park scientists revealed that 52 percent of backpackers and 19 percent of day hikers were carrying bear spray. Those numbers represented a five percent and an eight percent increase respectively since 2012.
“We are encouraged to see an increase in hikers carrying bear spray, but there are still many people choosing to put themselves and park bears at risk,” said Superintendent Dan Wenk. “Remember, a bear doesn’t care how far you’re hiking, if you’re just fishing, or even if you’re a movie star. No matter who you are or what you are doing, you should always carry bear spray and know how to use it.”
The campaign supplements the park’s ongoing bear safety education program, which encourages people to be alert, make noise, hike in groups of three or more, and not run if they encounter a bear. Using bear spray is the last line of defense after following all other recommendations.
“Yellowstone visitors care deeply about preserving bears and observing them in the wild,” says Kerry Gunther, the park’s Bear Management Specialist. “Bear safety practices and carrying bear spray is the best way for them to participate in bear conservation because reducing potential conflicts protects both people and bears.”
Posters from the “A Bear Doesn’t Care” campaign are available for download at https://flic.kr/s/aHskx93BCw and go.nps.gov/abeardoesntcare. Visit go.nps.gov/yellbearsafety for information about bear encounters. A brand new instructional video about how to use bear spray is on go.nps.gov/bearspray. Bear spray demonstrations are conducted by park rangers at Yellowstone visitor centers throughout the summer months.