With black bears and grizzly bears emerging from hibernation, officials with Wyoming Game and Fish are reminding residents to exercise caution in bear-populated areas of the state.

Robin Kepple, an information officer with Wyoming Game and Fish, says residents should start thinking about properly storing things which could attract bears and securing potential food sources.

“Once a bear gets what we call a ‘food reward,’ they’ll continue to come back to look for food in that location well into the future,” Kepple said. “It’s a safety precaution and a good practice to prevent the bear from getting that first food reward in and around your property.”

For hikers and campers, Kepple says it’s best to not surprise a bear.

“If at all possible, stay with a group of people and make some noise when you’re traveling,” Kepple said. “Bears don’t like to be surprised, and a lot of attacks on humans are due to surprise encounters.”

Kepple says Game and Fish will host a series of free bear safety workshops this spring throughout the state.

More information about bear safety can be found at the Wyoming Game and Fish website.