Category Archives: Environmental Issues

Private campgrounds complicating bear conflict management

Female grizzly relocated to North Fork from lower Depuyer Creek area in May 2019 following livestock depredation
Female grizzly relocated to North Fork from lower Depuyer Creek area in May 2019 following livestock depredation

Timely article concerning Flathead area bear conflict management problems . . .

Privately-run campgrounds are adding another complication for wildlife managers trying to reduce human conflicts with grizzly bears, experts said this week.

On Thursday, the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem subcommittee met in Kalispell to review last year’s management of NCDE grizzly bears and discuss future challenges as more people with little wildlife awareness move to western Montana. Another 50 members of the committee and the public joined the meeting online.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks grizzly research biologist Cecily Costello summarized the 2021 data that showed the NCDE population is stable based upon the 2017 Conservation Strategy criteria. However, 44 bears, including 11 cubs, died within the primary conservation area and the surrounding Zone 1 buffer area – stretching from Eureka south to the Ninemile Valley, east over Rogers Pass and north through the Blackfeet Reservation.

Continue reading . . .

Flathead Wild & Scenic River live webinar, March 30th, 7pm

Poster announcing Flathead Wild & Scenic River Live Webinar, March 30th, 2022 7:00-8:00 pm MSTFlathead Rivers Alliance is hosting the Flathead Wild & Scenic River CRMP 101: How does management of Wild & Scenic Rivers work? free live webinar on Wednesday, March 30th, 2022, from 7:00-8:00 pm MST. In anticipation of the public participation portion on the Three Forks of the Flathead CRMP draft, this live webinar provides an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of river management plans from regional and local experts. An opportunity for the public to participate in CRMPs only happens every 15 to 20 years. Registration is required for this FREE webinar. If you don’t plan on attending virtually, you can register to receive a video recording and submit your questions via email ahead of time. Learn more: www.flatheadrivers.org/events

Webinar Registration: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/6116443358206/WN_E7n1YQ8HTkiwI9wwKy1ZiQ


Also, the Flathead Rivers Alliance is ramping up for the 2022 river season and recruiting 20-30 volunteer team members! Are you passionate about the river system that inspired a national protected Wild and Scenic River system? They are expanding their River Ambassador program and officially launching a River Recreation Monitoring Survey program.

  • April 12th, 2022 6:00-8:00 pm River Ambassador Training 
  • April 14th, 2022 6:00-8:00 pm River Recreation Monitoring Training 

There are a number of ways to give your time including helping with their volunteer programs on the North, Middle and South Forks of the Flathead River. Save the above dates and RSVP at info@flatheadrivers.org if you’re interested in one or both of their volunteer program trainings or other opportunities.

Federal Protections for Gray Wolves Restored

A gray wolf in Yellowstone National Park - Jacob W. Frank, NPS
A gray wolf in Yellowstone National Park – Jacob W. Frank, NPS

Federal protections for gray wolves have been restored, except for those states where gray wolf endangered species status has already been removed by congress . . .

A judge has ordered federal protections restored for gray wolves across much of the U.S. after they were removed in the waning days of the Trump administration.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White said in Thursday’s ruling that the Fish and Wildlife Service failed to show wolf populations could be sustained in the Midwest and portions of the West without protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Wildlife advocates had argued state-sponsored hunting threatened to reverse the gray wolf’s recovery over the past several decades.

The ruling does not directly impact wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, which remain under state jurisdiction.

Continue reading . . .

Related reading: Interior Secretary Deb Haaland Speaks Up On Wolves, But Is It Enough? – Mountain Journal

Flathead River group launches Wild & Scenic River Webinar Series ahead of Comprehensive River Management Plan

Flathead Rivers Alliance announces a two-part live webinar speaker series ahead of the anticipated spring public comment period for the Three Forks of the Flathead Wild and Scenic River Comprehensive River Management Plan. This is an opportunity to learn about the ins and outs of Wild and Scenic Rivers and river management plans from expert regional and local managers and advocates. Additionally, gain an understanding of how to be an active participant during the public portion of the river management plan process that only happens every fifteen to twenty years.

Flathead Wild & Scenic River Webinar Series

  • February 16th, 2022  7:00-8:00 PM MST| Webinar #1: The Wild & Scenic River that Connects Us
  • March 30th, 2022      7:00-8:00 PM MST | Webinar #2: CRMP 101- How does management of Wild and Scenic Rivers work?

Registration is required for this free webinar series. If you don’t plan on attending virtually, you can register to receive a video recording and submit your questions via email. Live transcription is available during the webinar. Learn more and register at flatheadrivers.org/events.

Did you know the Middle Fork of the Flathead River was the birthplace for the idea of a National Wild and Scenic Rivers system? Designated by Congress on October 12, 1976 (Public Law 94-486), the Three Forks of the Flathead Wild and Scenic River are currently managed under the 1980 Flathead River Management Plan. For the last two years, the Flathead National Forest and Glacier National Park have been drafting an updated CRMP for these rivers that they cooperatively manage, taking into account significant increase of shore and float usage and an obligation to protect the river system’s Outstanding Remarkable Values.

Join Flathead Rivers Alliance to learn about the significance of Wild and Scenic Rivers, responsibilities for managing the 219 mile Three Forks of the Flathead River as a Wild and Scenic River System, and what’s around the bend for Comprehensive River Management Plan (CRMP) public participation and local initiatives.

More information on webinar speaker series registration, volunteer and donation opportunities, and quick reference CRMP FAQ can be found at flatheadrivers.org/comprehensive-river-management-plan.

Continue reading Flathead River group launches Wild & Scenic River Webinar Series ahead of Comprehensive River Management Plan

Montana Wolf Harvest Dashboard

Collared Wolf - courtesy USFWSWant to know how Montana’s politics-before-science wolf harvest is going this year? The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Wolf Harvest Dashboard has you covered. You can even drill down to information on each individual kill. For instance, the three wolves taken in Wolf Management Unit 110 (WMU 110), which encompasses the North Fork, were all trapped on January 20 in the Lazy Creek area.

Kudos to NFPA Board member Diane Boyd for highlighting this resource.

Link: Montana Wolf Harvest Dashboard

 

Wolf harvest down locally despite rule changes

Gray WolfWhat’s going on here in Region 1? Over-hunting in previous years? . . .

Following years of record regional harvests, hunters and trappers in the northwestern corner of the state have so far achieved less than a third of total state-sanctioned wolf kills for the season.

The state Fish and Wildlife Commission set its Region 1 wolf hunting and trapping threshold this year — quitting the use of a “quota” — at 195 animals.

Year-to-date, the Region 1 effort, mostly comprising Lake, Sanders, Lincoln and Flathead counties, tallied 52 wolves tagged so far, according to state Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department data available Friday. That’s down from the 101 killed in the region by this time last year, according to FWP.

Continue reading . . .

Montana FWP to close wolf hunting around Yellowstone after a few more kills

Wolf in Yellowstone National Park - Jim Peaco, YNP
Wolf in Yellowstone National Park – Jim Peaco, YNP

The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission will shut down wolf hunting in the area around Yellowstone National Park as soon a few more wolves are killed . . .

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park commissioners voted Friday to close wolf hunting and trapping in Region 3 once the wolf take reaches 82 wolves.

Region 3 encompasses an area of Montana just north of Yellowstone National Park. The take to date is 76 wolves.

Commissioner Pat Tabor, who is from the Flathead Valley, quashed an amendment to the motion that would have immediately closed wolf hunting and trapping in wolf management units units 313 and 316, which directly border Yellowstone. The smaller units are part of the broader Region 3.

Continue reading . . .

FWP: Wolf take on par with last year; three North Fork wolves killed

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

So far, the number of wolves taken this hunting season  is about the same, but the distribution of kills has changed somewhat . . .

With almost two months remaining, this season’s wolf harvest is on par with past seasons in Montana, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks said last week.

But it’s where the wolves are being killed that’s raised concerns. In wolf management unit 313, which borders Yellowstone National Park, 16 wolves have been killed as of Friday and three more in wolf management unit 316, which also borders the Park, bringing the total to 19 wolf deaths along the Park’s border…

…Closer to home, the first wolves up the North Fork of the Flathead have been killed as well. To date, three wolves have been killed in wolf management unit 110, according to FWP reports…

Read more . . .

Flathead Forest ‘travel plan’ changes likely to reduce mountain biking, adjust snowmobile opportunities

Flathead National Forest
Flathead National Forest

The Flathead National Forest is beginning the process of bringing its travel plan into alignment with the overall 2018 forest plan . . .

The Flathead National Forest has released a two-pronged proposed action that looks to update where snowmobiles and other over the snow motorized vehicles can run in the future, as well as mechanized uses like bicycles and game carts.

The changes come under the 2018 Forest plan, as it has about 190,400 acres of recommended wilderness. Under the plan, some trails could be closed that were once open to mechanical uses like bicycles, because the trails are now in recommended wilderness.

The bulk of those trails — about 82 miles, are in the Tuchuk-Whale Creek areas of the North Fork.

“Specifically, within the 190,403 acres of recommended wilderness areas, about 96 miles of trail currently allow mechanized transport and about 383 acres currently allow over-snow motorized use. There are no open motorized trails or roads or designated over-snow motorized travel routes in these recommended wilderness areas,” the proposed action notes.

Read more . . .

Op-ed: We cannot support delisting Montana grizzly bears unless state laws are changed

Here is a well-reasoned op-ed that recently appeared in the Helena Independent Record opposing grizzly bear delisting due to problems with Montana’s current wildlife management  regime. You’ll see some familiar entries in the 35-name signature block, including NFPA Board of Directors member Diane Boyd.

(Bonus: the Char-Kosta News, official news publication of the Flathead Indian Reservation, has a lengthy discussion of the underlying background issues.)


Grizzly bear on log - Ken Peaco, NPS

We are 35 state, federal, and Tribal wildlife professionals who have worked together for more than 40 years to help recover and manage grizzly bears, wolves, and other wildlife in Montana. We did this by building science and fact-based management policies and plans with public input while carefully balancing the needs of bears and other wildlife with the needs of the people who live, work, and recreate in Montana.

We believed in and promoted the eventual delisting of recovered grizzlies and wolves and turning them over to state management. We believed that the wildlife professionals in Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) would be good stewards who would continue to carefully manage grizzly bears and wolves using science and facts after recovery and delisting.

All this changed in 2021 when a new legislative majority and a like-minded governor took office. Science-based wildlife management in Montana was replaced by anti-predator hysteria fueled by misinformation and emotion. Professional wildlife management by FWP biologists was replaced by partisan political intervention that overturned decades of sound wildlife policy.

Continue reading Op-ed: We cannot support delisting Montana grizzly bears unless state laws are changed