YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK — All of Yellowstone is bear habitat: from the deepest backcountry to the boardwalks around Old Faithful. Visitors should be prepared for bear encounters no matter where you go.

Recently a black bear in the northern part of the park put its paws up on cars. Similar problems have happened over the past year.  Park officials say drivers should honk and drive away whenever a bear gets too close. Officials also say that bears which are used to people and get food from them can become aggressive, and if they do, they must be put down.

The overwhelming majority of bear encounters do not involve conflict. But, when dealing with bears, your safety cannot be guaranteed. Visitors can play an active role in protecting themselves and the bears by following these guidelines:

• Never feed bears. Bears that become dependent on human food may become aggressive toward people and have to be killed.
• If a bear approaches or touches your car, honk your horn and drive away to discourage this behavior.
• Review the best practices for hiking and camping in bear country, and learn what to do if you encounter a bear.
• Read about bear spray, a highly effective, non-lethal bear deterrent.
• Make sure you know what areas are closed for bear management.
• Download and share posters from our “A Bear Doesn’t Care” campaign

There is an average of one bear attack per year in Yellowstone. In separate incidents in 2011 and 2015, three people were killed by bears inside the park. More people have died by drowning or suffering thermal burns from hot springs than aggressive bears.