Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - After a mild winter, the Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks is reporting that bears all over western Montana are emerging from hibernation nearly a full month early.

KGVO News spoke to FWP Education and Program Manager Vivaca Crowser on Monday, who related the early emergence of bears in the area.

FWP Says Bears are Already Out of their Dens Almost a Month Early

“In a typical year, we think of April 1, as kind of the target date for bear activity, but this year, in line with what we were just talking about, we already have reports of bears out and about because the conditions just are making them vacate (their dens),” began Crowser. “It's time to get up and it's okay to be out there.”

Crowser said homeowners in bear-prone areas need to begin preparing their properties a bit earlier than usual, and that some bears may have cubs with them.

“This year really now is the time to go through all those bear safety messages in your head; to look around your house, make sure all those attractants are secured so around your house,” she said. “The key things are making sure that garbage is either indoors or in a bear-resistant garbage container.”

FWP says to Secure Bear Attractants Now for Safety

Crowser added another cautionary note on preparing for the early arrival of bears in the area.

“We sometimes have pet food outside,” she said. “We have compost piles and we have backyard fruit trees. Most of that would just be leftover of course from last year but just looking around your property, picking up any of those things, making sure it's put away. Bird feeders are inside now. Those are the types of things that are going to really grab the attention of bears as they get out and about again, and if they get their first taste of that then they're unfortunately probably going to hang around our neighborhoods which leads to all sorts of concerns.”

READ MORE: Montana FWP: New License Year Opens For Outdoors Enthusiasts

Crowser said now is the perfect time to get reacquainted with the Missoula Bears dot org website.

“Missoula bears.org is our local website,” she said. “It's a great spot that is run by a collection of folks who have really come together to share information on those kinds of things you can do to prevent bears in your backyard, such as bear safety tips, bear sightings are reported along with sightings of attractants so people can police each other and keep those things picked up. It’s just an awesome local resource. It's not just Missoula. In recent years, they've expanded to cover some of the outlying areas as well. So, you can get a lot of good information on there for the west-central Montana area.”

Crowser said the Urban Deer Population has Also Exploded due to the Mild Winter

Crowser said the mild winter also has contributed to the exploding population of urban deer in the Missoula area.

Law enforcement agencies urge all Missoula area drivers to slow down and watch for deer and other wildlife on city and county roads.

Click here to read important safety information from the Montana Department of Transportation about driving where there are urban deer and other animals.

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Gallery Credit: Meagan Drillinger

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