Bears are starting to emerge from their dens in Yellowstone National Park.

On Tuesday, Yellowstone posted an aerial photo to its Facebook page of a bear in the Nez Perce drainage that was taken during a wolf survey flight.

“Time to carry bear spray and take precautions to avoid surprise encounters with bears when skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking,” according to the post on the park’s Facebook page.

While it may seem early for bears to be waking up and leaving their dens, the park says it is not. In response to one commenter on the park’s Facebook page who asked if it was early, the park replied that it’s actually later than the first reported sighting last year which was on Feb. 9. The park added that the first week of March is the average time that bears start appearing in the spring.

The park also reminded people to brush up on their bear safety skills. You can find information about that HERE.

Tips include checking with park offices about recent bear activity, being alert for signs of bears when hiking and knowing what to do if you encounter a bear.

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