Wildlife Awareness in Big Sky, Montana


Binoculars, Bear Spray and Basic Awareness

In Big Sky, Montana, we are fortunate to be surrounded by an amazing variety of wildlife, including black bears, grizzly bears, moose, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, mountain lions, deer, bison and a number of other incredible creatures. As important as it is for us to be able to see and appreciate these animals, it's more important to keep in mind the fact that we live in their habitat, rather than the mistaken idea that they live in ours. This practice requires awareness, knowledge and respect for everything about the wildlife that calls this corner of Montana home. The purpose of this website is to familiarize users with the safest methods to co-exist with and appreciate the natural denizens of our mountain paradise.


What to Do if You Find Yourself in an Encounter with Wildlife.

Preparation and avoidance are the best ways to prevent a confrontation with wildlife. Here are some tips to help:

• Every member of a group should have their own can of bear spray and should know how to use it. Many local retailers have inert cans of bear spray to practice with.

• Make loud noises often while recreating in the outdoors. This alerts wildlife of your presence so there are no surprises.

• Be aware of your surroundings. Look and listen diligently. This can help you spot wildlife to avoid surprising either them or you.

• Be aware of the wind direction and how it carries your scent. Wildlife rely heavily on their sense of smell. Human scent can alert wildlife of our presence, but only if that smell is blowing in their direction.


If You Find Yourself in a Confrontation with Wildlife, Here are Some Tips:

• If the wildlife does not notice you, slowly back away and head the opposite direction.

• If the wildlife does notice you, stand your ground and, in most cases, do not make eye contact. Once the wildlife disengages and goes back to what it was doing, then slowly back away in the opposite direction. In the case of moose or elk, you can begin to make your retreat before the animal disengages. With regard to mountain lions, making and sustaining eye contact and being loud and large is usually the right action.

• For specific suggestions on wolf or mountain lion encounters, visit this site.

• For advice regarding moose encounters and how they differ from bear encounters, visit this site.

• Deploy your bear spray once the charging animal comes into the range of your bear spray. Most bear sprays will only deploy 30 feet in optimal conditions. Be aware that bear sprays are effective on most mammals, not just bears.