The Wyoming Game and Fish Department says annual whitebark pine surveys on established transects in northwest Wyoming indicate poor whitebark pine cone production during 2013, which could mean an increase in human-bear encounters this fall – especially for hunters in grizzly bear habitat.

Spokemsan Al Langston says the seeds of whitebark pine are high in fat content, and are a sought after food source as bears prepare for winter hibernation. In years of lower cone production, bears tend to range farther in search of alternative food sources.

Langston says people who live in and recreate in grizzly bear country need to realize they may have a higher chance of encountering a bear this fall. The Game and Fish recommends that all recreationists mentally prepare themselves for a bear encounter and carry bear deterrent.