A grizzly bear was confirmed northeast of Magee in the Coeur d’Alene National Forest on October 6, 2021. Both grizzly bears and black bears can be found in most of the Panhandle and other parts of the state, and people are encouraged to take appropriate precautions when hunting and recreating in bear country.
As fall big game seasons ramps up, hunters are encouraged to be bear aware while afield and review their bear identification skills to avoid mistaken identity. Size and color of the animal are not reliable indicators of species. It’s best to look at multiple features in order to make the right call. Grizzlies typically have short, rounded ears, a dished facial profile, a prominent shoulder hump and 2-4 inch long claws.
This is the time of year when bears are most active, trying to consume as many calories as possible in order to withstand the winter denning period. This means bears can be active throughout the day and night and can often cover large areas of ground in search of food.
Grizzly bears are federally protected in northern Idaho and there is currently no hunting season.
Since hunting increases the chances of encountering a grizzly bear, below are some recommendations for hunting in grizzly country:
Carry bear spray and keep it accessible and within reach
Hunt with partners and make each other aware of plans
Look for grizzly bear sign, including fresh tracks, scats, digs, and carcasses or gut piles
Be sure of your target before shooting a bear
Retrieve game meat as quickly as possible and approach the carcass carefully and loudly
Hang meat, food, and garbage at least 200 yards from camp and at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet from the vertical support
When not hunting, make noise, especially around creeks and thick vegetation. Most attacks occur by inadvertently surprising a bear at close range
Black bears are common throughout the Panhandle. Grizzly bears are most commonly observed in the Cabinet and Selkirk mountain ranges in Game Management Unit 1 but have also been infrequently observed in units 2, 3, 4, 4A, 6, 7, and 9.
Additional information on grizzly bears, including bear identification training is available on the Fish and Game website. Contact the Panhandle Regional Office with questions at (208) 769-1414.