Solid data on the population of grizzly bears in the Cabinet-Yaak region . . .
How many hairs does it take to make a grizzly bear?
About 11,000 tufts, snagged in special barbed-wire snares scattered throughout the Cabinet and Yaak regions of northwest Montana, cooked down to evidence of roughly 42 grizzlies in 2012. The groundbreaking research unveiled at the winter gathering of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee in Missoula marked the first time that area has had a solid population number for the rare bears.
“That’s the rock-solid minimum count we detected,” research leader Kate Kendall told the committee Tuesday. The number includes 38 grizzlies identified by their unique DNA plus four more known, collared bears that didn’t show up in the hair samples. When some tentative data about visiting bears or bears that died during the study gets added in, the figure could grow to 54.
The number’s important because the fate of grizzlies in the Cabinet-Yaak area influences everything from logging and mining to hiking and hunting…