Test Your Bear Identification Skills

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True or False: Grizzly bears have short claws, long pointed ears and no hump between their shoulders.

If you answered “true,” you might want to take the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Bear Identification Test.

Even if you recognized the question as a description of a black bear and answered “false,” you’re still encouraged to take the voluntary exam.

“This on-line learning tool is designed for outfitters, professional guides, hunters and other outdoor recreationists to test and improve their bear identification skills,” according to Cody Information and Education Specialist Dennie Hammer. The test includes the 15 multiple-choice questions based on various photographs of bears in natural settings. To pass the voluntary test, you must score at least 80 percent. The test can be retaken as many times as needed to pass.

Visitors to the site will also find a training link www.bebearaware.org to the Center for Wildlife Information. The link provides a great deal of bear identification and safety information and is a useful way to prepare for the test.

For years, the G&F has conducted an extensive, multi-faceted public information and education bear program. “Each spring we offer ‘Living in Bear and Mountain Lion Country’ workshops and seminars, provide news releases and alerts on spring bear emergence and fall food availability, as well as numerous presentations to schools, youth and civic groups,” Hammer said.

He added that the on-line bear identification test is just one more tool in the toolbox the G&F uses to reduce the potential for conflict between bears and humans.

Hammer said that by having the ability to properly identify black bears from grizzlies, hunters can avoid mistakenly killing a grizzly during hunting seasons, and recreationists can make informed decisions on how to react in a bear encounter.

The test is very similar to the one administered by the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Department. Montana’s test was implemented in January 2002 and must be taken and passed before hunters can purchase a black bear license.

Wyoming’s test is voluntary at the present time, however, the G&F Commission has directed the agency to determine whether or not there is support among the hunting community for a mandatory test.

The rationale for making the test mandatory is the same as Montana’s, which is to minimize the number of grizzly bears mistakenly killed as black bears by hunters. To date this has not been a major problem, but it would assist the G&F in demonstrating its commitment to meeting the “adequate regulatory mechanisms” requirements for delisting the Yellowstone grizzly bear population from its “threatened” status under the Endangered Species Act.