Chuck Jonkel’s mementos burgled

Chuck Jonkel
Chuck Jonkel

Arrgh!!! . . .

Burglars looted the late grizzly researcher Chuck Jonkel’s Missoula home twice last week, stealing not only historic bear memorabilia but current wildlife research files.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks bear manager Jamie Jonkel, Chuck Jonkel’s son, discovered the break-in on Monday at the home near the base of Mount Sentinel. The thieves had apparently spent hours rooting around in the house, taking the senior Jonkel’s collections of bear pins and jewelry, rare coins and stamps, spotting scopes, and other personal items. They also took several things belonging to Jamie Jonkel, including his FWP work computer and a sack full of thumb-drives loaded with photos and videos of grizzly management activity.

Read more . . .

‘Smarter than the Average Bear’ – Polebridge Bear Smart Program makes the news

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

This summer’s second Polebridge Bear Smart Program training session made the news! Here’s a very nice article by Tristan Scott just published in the Flathead Beacon . . .

The sun was just peeking out from behind the Livingston Range last Thursday morning when Northwest Montana’s leading grizzly bear management specialist arrived at the site, but it was already too late. Beer and soda cans littered the patio outside the Northern Lights Saloon in Polebridge. Shredded candy bar wrappers and the salty contents of a Lay’s potato chip bag decorated the lawn. An upended trash bin and a flattened rucksack might have been confetti cannons broadcasting the refuse of the prior evening’s festivities.

It resembled a scene straight out of a bear-aware nightmare…

Continue reading . . .

Grizzly bear euthanized in the North Fork after frequenting residential properties

From the press release . . .

KALISPELL — Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks bear management specialists euthanized a grizzly bear that frequented near homes and was habituated to people in the North Fork area of the Flathead River.

FWP specialists recently received reports from landowners of the bear appearing in yards around people. The bear was captured May 26. Its teeth were in extremely poor condition and the adult male was estimated to be approximately 22 years old.

The decision was made to euthanize the bear May 27 in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and by Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee guidelines.

“This bear had grown comfortable around people, which is unnatural and unsafe for people and wildlife,” said Justine Vallieres, FWP grizzly bear management specialist. “The bear’s health condition was also poor due to its teeth and age. All of these factors created an increasing likelihood for potential conflict in an area where people live.”

Continue reading Grizzly bear euthanized in the North Fork after frequenting residential properties

June Polebridge Bear Smart training fun and successful

Debo telling the story of Monica at PBBS Training, June 2, 2022
Debo telling the story of Monica at PBBS Training, June 2, 2022

The second Polebridge Bear Smart employee training session was held on Thursday, June 2nd and was, again, very successful and loads of fun. Justine Vallieres, bear manager with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, provided inert bear spray for a practice opportunity that was very popular among participants. Bears (Richard and Zoe) came to be attracted and then deterred, entertaining all. The Polebridge Bear Smart/NFPA is delighted with the success of these training programs and looking forward to the rollout (no pun intended) of our bear resistant canister program within the next couple of weeks. Contact the Polebridge Bear Smart Coordinator with any questions or to become more involved at sdhildner@icloud.com. . . Continue reading June Polebridge Bear Smart training fun and successful

Summer 2022 NFPA Newsletter online

For those of you who can’t wait on the mail, the North Fork Preservation Association Summer 2022 Newsletter is now available online in the “Newsletters” section of the website. Enjoy!

Here’s a partial table of contents:

  • Announcement of NFPA Annual Meeting, July 23
  • Approaching Our 40th Year (President’s letter)
  • First Strategic Plan in 40 Years!
  • Proposed New Mission Statement
  • Announcing the Polebridge Bear Smart Program
  • Working Group Reports
  • Scholarship & Awards Committee Report

First Polebridge Bear Smart training session a big success

Polebridge Bear Smart training session, Home Ranch Bottoms, May 26, 2022
Polebridge Bear Smart training session, Home Ranch Bottoms, May 26, 2022

PBBS Program Coordinator Suzanne Hildner reports . . .

The Polebridge Bear Smart (PBBS) Committee would like to announce a very successful first Polebridge Employee Training session at Home Ranch Bottoms this afternoon. We had 12 participants who were from all across the country and with a couple of exceptions all new to living and recreating in bear country. Many had already seen a bear. They were a really fantastic audience, polite, engaged and asked excellent questions. Most were already in possession of bear spray.The entire event lasted a little over an hour. Thanks to all who helped make this happen. Next training is June 4th.

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 Forest Special Use Permit comments due May 18

Flathead National Forest
Flathead National Forest

[Updated original April 30 post on May 3 to incorporate various “The Last Best Ride” errata.] The Flathead National Forest has released a “Special Uses Scoping Letter” dated April 26 (PDF, 194KB) discussing this year’s batch of pending Special Use Permits (SUP’s). There has been no press release yet. I suspect we’ll see one next week.

I have had no opportunity to do a deep dive yet, but there are ten SUP’s that affect the North Fork to a greater or lesser extent. I have highlighted those items in the scoping letter and added links to their project documentation. They range from the usual collection of hiking, biking and motorized activities, to a trail run up Nasukoin Mountain, and a late-September marathon from Big Creek to Columbia Falls. Details, including maps, are posted on the forest’s “Projects” page: https://www.fs.usda.gov/projects/flathead/landmanagement/projects. The cover letter lists contact information for comments and inquiries.

Note that most of the project permits impacting the North Fork are not being handled by Hungry Horse-Glacier View Ranger District personnel. Also note that the Forest Service is only responsible for activities occurring on their lands – the marathon, for instance, is mostly a city/county/state issue.

The deadline for comments is May 18!

Download:
Special Uses Scoping Letter with links and highlighting  (PDF, 194KB)

 

North Valley bear manager ready to hit the woods, neighborhoods

Justine Vallieres, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wildlife conflict specialist
Justine Vallieres, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wildlife conflict specialist

Justine Vallieres was recently named the new Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wildlife conflict management specialist to fill the role of longtime grizzly bear manager Tim Manley.

Vallieres worked as a technician under Manley for four years and worked under wolf biologists Kent Laudon and Diane Boyd for one year each prior to that. She’s originally from New Hampshire and has a degree in applied animal science and wildlife from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. To date, she’s says she’s worked with about 100 grizzly bears through her tenure and learned a lot from Manley, who retired last year.

Continue reading . . .

Justine Vallieres is new Region 1 Wildlife Conflict Specialist for Montana FWP

Justine Valieres
Justine Valieres, Wildlife Conflict Specialist for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (Region 1)

Recently announced  on Facebook by Tim Manley . . .

Congratulations to Justine Vallieres! She is the new Wildlife Conflict Specialist for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (Region 1) based out of Kalispell.

I retired at the end of 2021. Justine was one of several qualified individuals that applied for the job and was selected by the interview committee. I know Justine will do a great job!