More bear sightings in recent years as the population of South Dakota grows

Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 7:27 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) -Last week a women was attacked and killed by a grizzly bear while camping in Montana, and while bears may be rare in the Black Hills, there have been more sightings in recent years, causing residents and tourists to wonder what they should do if they come across a bear.

The Regional Wildlife Supervisor for South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks, Mike Klosowski, says black bears are the only type of bear in the state, and like so many visitors, they are new to town.

“Since 2001 South Dakota has seen an increase in bear sightings. We average roughly right around 12 to 15 sightings at this time, and they are all black bears,” Klosowski said.

He says the chance of running into a black bear in Western South Dakota is rare, however, that does not put you out of the woods.

“We recommend hiking in groups, not only in case folks encounter some dangerous situation with an animal but there could present danger from falls, rattlesnakes, or other things like that, becoming disorientated or lost,” Klosowski said.

Klosowski added that a more dangerous situation people are likely to face is an encounter with a bison.

“They appear to be docile, they appear to be very loveable, and you just want to go out there and pet them, but it’s the exact opposite. They are very fast, they are very agile if you get too close, they can be on top of you in a very short period of time,” Klosowski said.

As tourism increases, Klosowski says visitors should enjoy the state but remember to keep some distance between you and the wildlife.

klosowski warns that “We’re seeing specifically an increase in people visiting our state parks, we have Sturgis rally coming up so we’re really going to start seeing a lot of people, even more in the state of South Dakota... and as long as people stay very cognizant in giving some wildlife some space, they can stay very safe.”

As we’ve seen in the past, bison will even take your pants if you let them.

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