Bears In Island Park

Island Park Is Bear Country!

Do you live in Island Park? Are you visiting? Hiking? Camping? Hunting? Fishing? Biking? ATVing? In Island Park, you are surrounded by 3 million acres of national forest, including wonderful wildlife habitat in mountains, valleys, and meadows. The forest is rich in wildlife – including elk, moose, mule deer, pronghorn, bison, grizzly bears, black bears, mountain lions, and wolverines. You may see wildlife out your window, from the road, along a trail, or in your campground. The wildlife of Island Park and Greater Yellowstone is a national treasure.

Bears could be anywhere! Be prepared, not scared.

“The entirety of Island Park is occupied Bear-Country and contains healthy populations of both grizzlies and black bears. While the exact number of bears within the Island Park area is unknown, visitors should assume their presence and utilize ‘Bear Aware’ principles to avoid conflicts and keep both humans and bears safe.”

James Brower, Idaho Department of Fish & Game


Number of grizzly bear conflicts and grizzly bear mortalities in the Idaho portion of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, 2005-2023, Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Bears Can Be Anywhere!

Island Park is part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which is home to an estimated 1,000 grizzlies. These bears inhabit a range of about 22,500 miles, so bears could be anywhere. Grizzlies cover a very large home range—up to 500 square miles for a male. 

Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) data through 2022 indicates that human-grizzly bear conflicts in the Idaho portion of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) have been steadily increasing since the late 1990s and have never been higher. The vast majority of these conflicts occur in the northeastern half of Fremont County around the Island Park area and result from careless handling of food and trash.

Locations of human-grizzly bear conflicts in the Idaho portion of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, 2023, Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Bears Can Smell From Miles Away

When in bear country, assume you could run into a bear and be prepared. Bears are attracted to smells, and almost anything smells like food to a bear – which can detect odors from several miles away. Store anything with a smell in a secure container or building. Do not leave out anything with a scent, including dog food, chicken food, bird feeders or BBQs. When hiking, carry bear spray, know how to use it, travel in groups, and make noise.

Where To Find Help

Idaho Fish and Game is charged with preserving, protecting, and managing all wildlife in the state. IDFG has a bear biologist in the Island Park-Ashton Ranger District who responds to reports of bear encounters or bears who have become habituated to being around people.

To report a bear conflict in your area, please contact one of these numbers as soon as possible.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game 208-525-7290 

(After hours) l Fremont County Dispatch 208-624-4482

In an emergency dial 911.

Photo credits: Top image by Bonnie Altshuld, middle grizzly image by Charlie Lansche.