40 years with grizzlies

Well, here’s the end of an era. Rick Mace is retiring . . .

In 1976, University of Montana student Rick Mace walked into his adviser’s office to inquire about classes he needed for his bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology.

He left the office with a summer job researching Northwest Montana’s newly protected grizzly bears. That was the beginning of a nearly 40-year career for Mace as one of the region’s top grizzly experts.

Now, with the Crown of the Continent area home to a robust, growing grizzly population and removal of the bears’ Endangered Species Act listing in sight, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wildlife biologist is bidding adieu to a lifetime spent working to understand the great bear.