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Montana FWP offers tips on bear awareness

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MISSOULA, Mont. - With black bear hunting season in full swing it's important to know the difference between protected grizzly bears and black bears.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks offered a presentation on bear safety, hoping to boost awareness as several hunters came to beat the deadline.

Vivaca Crowser, the education and information officer for Montana FWP, said the event offers an opportunity for people to see black bear and grizzly bear mounts first-hand and to talk about identification tips.

Hunters realize the importance of the differences between black bears and grizzly bears.

"The grizzly bear has more of a dish-shaped nose, and the black bear has more of a scoop to his face; the profile is different," said hunter Ashley Nelson.

"The difference is the claws are longer and more pronounced on the grizzly bear. It has a hump on its back," said local hunter Bob Lowry.

Be Bear Aware was set up outside the FWP office in Missoula.

Officials said the most important item to have is bear spray, and they offered instruction on how to use it.

"Because it's dispersed in a powerful expanded cloud you do not aim bear spray, you direct it toward the front of the bear and let the bear run into it. Now if the bear is closer you obviously spontaneously start spraying. And spray continuously until the bear diverts its charge," said Chuck Bartlebaugh, from Be Bear Aware.

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