Category Archives: Environmental Issues

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

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

Announcing the Loren Kreck – Edwin Fields Wilderness Scholarship

View along Nasukoin Mtn Trail #375
View along Nasukoin Mtn Trail #375 in recommended wilderness area, Aug 19, 2020 – W K Walker

The North Fork Preservation Association(NFPA) is pleased to offer the Kreck/Fields Wilderness Scholarship to a graduate student at a Montana institution of higher education. The scholarship will be awarded annually to a student who is using their education to advocate and promote wilderness protection and preservation. This advocacy and promotion can be in the areas of public policy, literature, journalism or the arts. Specific fields of study can be but are not limited to wildlife biology, ecology, environmental studies, environmental law, journalism or the expressive arts.

The value of the scholarship is $1500, awarded annually. The distribution will go directly to the educational institution for tuition, fees, the acquisition of information technology or assigned books, journals and reports.

Continue reading at the Kreck/Fields Scholarship page  . . .

2021 edition of North Fork Bear News available online

Grizzly bear strolling along a roadThe North Fork Bear News is back! Many of you should have received the 2021 edition in the mail, but it is now also available online.

Editor Julie Zeigler’s introduction tells the story . . .

We’re back! The North Fork Bear News was an annual newsletter that Amy Secrest, with layout assistance from Richard Wackrow, created and thoughtfully published from 2000-2005. A big shout out and thanks to the both of them for all their work! I have humbly taken up the mantle, and with support from the North Fork Preservation Association, plan to resume a yearly spring mailing to any and all North Forkers who would like to receive it. I would like to encourage any feedback you may have on this issue, but even more so any suggestions for content you would like to see in the future (my contact info can be found on page 6). It is our hope that this newsletter be educational, interesting, and inspiring; not only a way to stay informed on the wildlife that we are lucky enough to cohabit alongside, but also to celebrate the ways that we are all connected to each other as the North Fork community.

View/download the 2021 North Fork Bear News (PDF, 5.68MB)

“Living with Wildlife” available online

A grizzly and her cubs roam the wilds of Montana - Montana FWP

The 2021 edition of the NFPA’s “Living with Wildlife” brochure is available online. This publication, authored by wildlife biologist and researcher Diane Boyd and published by the NFPA, is highly recommended reading for anyone who lives near or interacts with our abundant local wildlife!

From the introduction:

The meadows, mountains and rivers of the North Fork are home to wildlife as well as humans who live and recreate in these areas. This interface can lead to conflict in which the wildlife usually loses. While private lands make up only 3% of the North Fork valley, they offer some of the best wildlife habitat. This brochure offers suggestions on how we can better coexist with our wildlife.

View/download “Living with Wildlife” here. (PDF format, 400KB)

Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission to decide on restricting motorized boats on Tepee Lake

Tepee Lake
Tepee Lake

A decision on motorized boating on Tepee lake is due Thursday . . .

A final decision on restricting motorized boats on Tepee Lake in the North Fork area is among the top agenda items the Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission will consider Thursday during an online meeting using the video conferencing platform Zoom.

According to a previous story in the Hungry Horse News, a group of landowners and stakeholders recently formally petitioned the commission to restrict the remote and fishless lake in the North Fork of the Flathead to manually powered boats only.

While there have been no conflicts to date, petitioners asked the commission to ban motorized use on the 43-acre lake. Tepee Lake is a small lake, which doesn’t support fish because of a lack of oxygen, but it does support a robust population of leeches, which the resident loons use, in part, to feed their young.

Read more . . .

Headwaters Montana Closes

Headwaters Montana Logo


Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 10, 2020
Contact:  Dave Hadden, Director, 406-270-3184/ info@headwatersmontana.org

Local Conservation Organization Closes
Establishes Wilderness Scholarship Fund and
Donates to Bigfork and Columbia Falls Conservation Projects

Local conservation organization Headwaters Montana will close its doors at the end of December after some 13 years of work in the Flathead and Kootenai regions advocating for wildlife and wilderness in land management decisions.

The Headwaters board voted in June to close the organization citing funding and other circumstances as the cause.

Board president Roger Sherman said that Headwaters Montana played a significant role in protecting the North Fork of the Flathead Rive from Canadian coal mine development in the early 200’s with passage of the North Fork Watershed Protection Act.  Headwaters marshaled bipartisan local support for the protection measures.

Headwaters also helped lower the temperature of the usually controversial Flathead Forest management plan revision process by initiating the Whitefish Range Partnership that brought diverse stakeholders to the table to resolve complex issues.  The final plan improved snowmobiling opportunities and recommended 80,000-acres of wilderness in the Whitefish Range, for example.

The organization also worked on a range of other conservation issues on the Kootenai National Forest, as well as the Kootenai River pollution from British Columbia, and helped develop alternate sources of funding for non-game wildlife in Montana, among many other issues.

As part of its closing Headwaters Montana has endowed the Loren Kreck and Edwin Fields Wilderness Scholarship Fund and the Jack Potter Glacier National Park Stewardship Fund.  Both funds will be managed by the North Fork Preservation Association (NFPA).

NFPA president Flannery Coats said her organization looks forward to carrying on some of the legacy work of Headwaters.  “Both these funds will help bring wilderness education and better natural resource management decisions to Montana in general and Glacier Park in particular,” Coats said.

In addition to these funds, Headwaters Montana made significant cash gifts to the Montana Land Reliance’s “Bigfork Natural Area Project”, and the Flathead Land Trust’s “Badrock Canyon Project.”

The Bigfork project hopes to build upon and expand the current trail system along the “Wild Mile” in Bigfork.  The Badrock Canyon Project seeks to protect about 800 outstanding acres along the Flathead River between Columbia Falls and Columbia Falls Heights.

“We’re really pleased to contribute to these two outstanding projects,” said Sherman.  “We hope our donation will inspire others to contribute.”

To learn more about the Wilderness Scholarship Fund or Glacier Park Stewardship Award contact Flannery Coats at 406-407-3863.  Contact Mark Schiltz at 406-837-2178 at the Montana Land Reliance regarding the Bigfork Natural Area Project, and Paul Travis at 406-261-4357 at the Flathead Land Trust for the Badrock Canyon Project.

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