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NFPA Annual Meeting is October 2 at Home Ranch Bottoms

Grizzly bear strolling along a road
Grizzly Bear strolling along a road

Hello Friends!

Many thanks for your patience as we reconfigure our plans for 2021 North Fork Preservation Association Annual Meeting plans in light of the Hay Creek Fire. Based on schedules of fellow organizations, as well as Mother Nature’s say, we have set a date, time and place for our gathering:

Saturday, October 2nd
at Home Ranch Bottoms
8950 North Fork Road

Our speaker this year is

Sally Thompson who co-wrote People Before the Park: The Kootenai and Blackfeet before Glacier National Park.

We would love for you to be among our honored guests.

4:30pm:           Potluck supper

5:45pm:           Short business meeting to elect officers and members of the Board of Directors and report on the work of NFPA

6:30pm:           Speaker

We are excited to spend an evening with all of you, share with you what we’ve been up to, and look forward to a great presentation.

 

Feds to explore relisting the gray wolf

Gray Wolf - Adam Messer-Montana FWP
Gray Wolf – Adam Messer-Montana FWP

Aggressive wolf management plans in Montana and Idaho are drawing the attention of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service . . .

On opening day of Montana’s expanded wolf-hunting season, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it has decided to conduct an in-depth status review to determine whether state management plans aiming to aggressively reduce wolf populations threaten the recovery of gray wolves.

The agency now has a year to conduct a further review of the species using the best available science to determine whether listing under the Endangered Species Act is warranted.

The process was initiated this summer when environmental groups asked the agency to relist the animals through two separate petitions. The groups filed the petitions after lawmakers in Montana and Idaho passed laws that encouraged aggressive population reduction by broadening the methods hunters could use to harvest wolves and expanding the trapping season.

In a release about the decision, the agency wrote that the two petitions presented “substantial information that potential increases in human-caused mortality may pose a threat to the gray wolf in the western U.S.” and that the “new regulatory mechanisms in Idaho and Montana may be inadequate to address this threat.”…

Read more . . .

Fed bears; dead bears

Monica with three cubs, June 8, 2020 – W. K. Walker
Monica with three cubs, June 8, 2020 – W. K. Walker

The Flathead Beacon has a good article by Tristan Scott discussing the loss of Monica and her three cubs, as well as the general North Fork community issues surrounding living with wildlife . . .

Twenty years ago, new arrivals to the remote North Fork Flathead River community of Polebridge were likely to hear some version of the following when asking for directions — just head north and hang a right at the pile of bear scat.

Situated on the doorstep of Glacier National Park, which merges with the Bob Marshall Wilderness to create the largest intact natural ecosystem in the Northern Rockies, the North Fork’s resident grizzly bear population has historically outnumbered its year-round residents, as evidenced by the prominent distribution of scatological droppings along the area’s trails and roadways. Still, the human interlopers who do call this wild chunk of country home have, more or less, learned how to coexist with their mammalian neighbors, reaching an accord that just comes with the territory in bear country.

And yet in recent years, due in part to the increased visitation at Glacier National Park, whose western boundary is defined by the North Fork Flathead River, as well as the expansion of commercial services in and around the community of Polebridge — leading to the development of “work camps” to house a growing number of seasonal workers — human-wildlife conflicts have been on the rise.

Read more . . .

Joint NFPA/NFLA press release: Small Community Loses Grizzly Family

For Immediate Release: September 8, 2021
Contact:
   Richard Hildner, NFLA President, richardhildner@icloud.com or
   Flannery Coats, NFPA President, flannery.e.coats@gmail.com

Small Community Loses Grizzly Family

Monica with three cubs, June 8, 2020 – W. K. Walker
Monica with three cubs, June 8, 2020 – W. K. Walker

Polebridge, Montana [September 8, 2021] – Bear #418, known to locals as Monica, was euthanized Saturday, September 4th along with her three female yearlings, after receiving a multitude of food rewards over the past week. Due to several incidents involving improper food and garbage storage within an eight-mile radius of the Polebridge townsite the bears were ultimately deemed food-conditioned. Monica had been a resident female grizzly bear in the North Fork Valley for 17 years.

In response, two local non-profits, the North Fork Landowners Association (nflandowners.org) and the North Fork Preservation Association (gravel.org), will be working together, along with agency partners, to help improve food and garbage storage in the area as well as to make financial aid resources from conservation organizations such as Defenders of Wildlife and Vital Ground more readily available to residents and business owners in the North Fork.

The North Fork community deeply grieves the loss of Monica and her cubs and in the coming months will explore new avenues to further educate and assist residents and visitors in how to live and recreate in bear country in a manner safe for both bears and humans.

Saga of Monica and her cubs ends tragically

Monica with three cubs, June 8, 2020 - W. K. Walker
Monica with three cubs, June 8, 2020 – W. K. Walker

Here’s the latest from Tim Manley on the tragic saga of Monica and her three cubs. It was posted to Facebook in the early morning hours of September 6th. Scroll to the end of this post for a photo gallery  . . .

Update on the grizzly bears… well, it was a difficult week. One that I would rather not repeat. I have read some of the comments and I understand everyone’s concerns and feelings. I think it is important to put a few things into context so everyone knows what transpired.

I am not going to mention names or locations but I think most people have heard about some of the locations where these incidents occurred. We tried to prevent further conflicts from occurring, but as you will see, this family group of bears were very food-conditioned and the property damage was extensive and knowing what they were going to do next was difficult to predict.

The adult female grizzly bear was known as Bear #418 or as we called her “Monica”. Based on the annual cementum of her premolar, her age was 20 years old. She was originally captured in 2004 as a sub-adult on the east side of the mountains at the site of a calf depredation. They didn’t know if she was the bear that killed the calf but the decision was made to relocate her to the west side of Glacier Park. She remained in the North Fork for 17 years and spent a majority of her time in Glacier Park, but denned in Hay Creek and on Cyclone.

Continue reading Saga of Monica and her cubs ends tragically

NFPA Annual Meeting postponed!

Dear North Fork Preservation Association membership and supporters,

In our organization’s 39th year of hosting our annual meeting in July, for the first time ever we have made a very difficult decision to postpone our gathering due to the early arrival of a wildfire named Hay Creek Fire. At present the air quality index (AQI) is 153, “unhealthy.”  Stage 2 fire restrictions are now in effect, and there have been a number of trail and road closures in the North Fork.  Thursday through Saturday of this week are forecast to be 90 to 91 degrees and sunny, and wind is expected to prevail from the west.  We learned Saturday night that this fire will likely continue until season-ending moisture in the fall. Much of the North Fork is under a pre-evacuation warning and the fire is, as of today, 0% contained. Lastly, we realize that hosting an event would put more pressure on already limited fire management resources.

We are currently working out the details for a fall gathering which will hopefully include less smoke, more colors and all of your smiling faces. Please stay tuned and thank you for your continued support of our mission and we hope everyone stays safe during this extended fire season.

On behalf of the Board of Directors,

Flannery Coats
|NFPA President

Reminder: Sally Thompson to speak at NFPA Annual Meeting, July 31

Hello friends of the North Fork Preservation Association!

JOIN US!
For the NFPA Annual Meeting
Saturday, July 31 at Sondreson Community Hall

Our speaker this year is
Sally Thompson who co-wrote People Before the Park: The Kootenai and Blackfeet before Glacier National Park.
We would love for you to be among our honored guests.

5:30pm:  Potluck supper

6:45pm:  Short business meeting to elect officers and members of the Board of Directors and report on the work of NFPA

7:30pm:  Speaker

We are excited to spend an evening with all of you, share with you what we’ve been up to, and look forward to a great presentation.

NOTE: The Hay Creek Fire is active in the North Fork. We do not at this time expect it to interfere with our meeting. Of course, wildland fires do not always behave as expected. For information on the Hay Creek Fire, monitor InciWeb at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7712/. More frequent, community-related bulletins can be found on the NFLA site: https://nflandowners.org/.

People Before the Park - cover

A letter to the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission regarding wolf management

Collared Wolf - courtesy USFWSHere’s the text of  a letter sent yesterday by the North Fork Preservation Association to the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission regarding wolf management. See also yesterday’s alert regarding the situation

Dear Montana Fish and Wildlife Commissioners:

The mission of the North Fork Preservation Association is to champion stewardship of the natural resources and protect the exceptional biodiversity of the North Fork of the Flathead River.  We live simply in the North Fork, off the grid, make concessions for our wild neighbors, and, best of all, the ecosystem contains a full complement of wildlife, which also forms the foundation for our thriving recreation-based economy. Wolves and grizzly bears roam freely through our public (96%) and private (4%) lands here in relative harmony with the human residents.  Sustainable population levels of ungulates have coexisted with wolves, bears, and other carnivores for a very long time here.

We were dismayed to see our 2021 Legislature pass many new bills that undermine the role of the FWP wildlife biologists and managers who make their professional decisions based on the best science available.  These new bills are not based on science but rather on emotions, especially the bills regarding wolves.  We are asking the Commission to maintain the pre-legislature status quo and avoid the significant, detrimental changes to wolf management.   We support FWP’s professional management processes, and we hope that the Commission will continue to support FWP by taking a long, hard look at the newly proposed options and select those options for wolf management that preserve FWP’s ability to professionally manage them—Option 1, Limited New Tools.

While we understand that the Legislature indicated that it wants a smaller wolf population in Montana, each region should be evaluated on its own merits by the professional managers at FWP.  We hope that a reasonable status quo harvest throughout Montana and our 2-wolf quota in the North Fork will be upheld by the Commission.  Please support “Option 1—Limited New Tools” for management of wolves.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Flannery Coats, President
For the NFPA Board of Directors

ALERT: Less than a week to challenge horrific Montana wolf harvest proposals!

Gray Wolf

Several horrific bills were passed by the 2021 Montana Legislature that will harm wolves and grizzly bears! These include significant reduction of the wolf population through neck snaring, longer seasons, hunting at night with spotlights, larger bag limits, bounties, etc. These proposed changes are based on the angry emotions of a few legislators, and prohibit MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) from being able to reasonably manage wolves and bears based on the best science available. The FWP Commission will be voting on these proposed detrimental changes in August. We have until 5pm on July 26 to get comments to our commissioners against these disastrous new laws. Please comment before July 26! In your letter, please recommend “Option 1—Limited New Tools.” For more information & online comment submission go to: https://fwp.mt.gov/hunt/public-comment-opportunities  and click on 2021 WOLF SEASON. You can also email the individual commissioners at:

Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission members