Relatively mild winter weather is bringing out the bears in Yellowstone National Park.
Park spokesman Al Nash says the first report of grizzly bear activity was confirmed late Monday afternoon.
The bears usually emerge from hibernation in early March.
They're hungry when leaving their dens and looking for an easy meal; namely, the carcasses of winter-killed animals.
Yellowstone visitors are advised to travel in groups and keep food and attractants sealed in bear-proof storage containers. Nash says firearms are not the best last-line of defense during bear confrontations.
"Absolutely. positively not. Our rangers, our law enforcement rangers, who carry sidearms and occasionally carry long-guns, carry bear spray with them to address any concerns they may have with bears," Nash says.
Bear experts say pepper spray best method for both fending off threatening and attacking bears and for preventing injury to the person and animal involved.