Debo Powers, NFPA President, passed along the following information . . .
The Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) grizzly bear population is “The Heart of the Grizzly Nation.” This population is crucial to recovery in the rest of the lower 48 populations. As the federal government moves toward delisting these magnificent creatures, we need to become informed.
Dr. David Mattson is building a website intended to bring together much of the information that is known about grizzlies, including demography, diet and habitat, and conservation: https://www.mostlynaturalgrizzlies.org.
There will be a meeting of the NCDE Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee in Missoula on November 29 from 9:00am to 4:00pm. There will be updates from various agencies working on the grizzly bear recovery plan and a time for public comment at the end of the meeting.
Here’s a good overview article from the Daily Inter Lake discussing the complexity of the upcoming decision on delisting grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem . . .
For four years, research ecologist Tabitha Graves has studied grizzly bears at the U.S. Geological Survey’s NOROCK West Glacier Field Station.
The hulking ursines bring more than tourists to Northwest Montana. “They have a pretty big role in this ecosystem,” she told the Daily Inter Lake. “We don’t often think about these kinds of details, but they disperse a lot of seeds, [and] they dig a lot,” helping circulate nutrients through the forest floor.
Understanding their benefits requires estimating the number of bears in the region – no easy task in a 16,000-square-mile “demographic monitoring area.” Graves and her colleagues add barbed wire to the tree trunks that bears rub along, then have the hair they collect DNA-sequenced, gaining a sense of which individual bears frequent which spots.
To make the plains and mountains safe for the great herds of cattle that were brought to the West at the end of the 19th century, grizzly bears were routinely shot as predators by bounty hunters and ranchers.
Ever since, the bears in Yellowstone National Park, protected from hunting, have been cut off from the rest of their kind. Their closest kin prowl the mountains some 70 miles north, in and around Glacier National Park.
In a new paper, biologists say that as grizzly populations increase in both Glacier and Yellowstone, more adventurous males from both parks are journeying farther to stake out territory, winding up in places where they have not been seen in a century or more.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ biologists have confirmed a grizzly bear sighting on a ranch in the northern Big Belt Mountains.
The sighting is the second in the Big Belts this summer and is likely two separate bears.
The first sighting was 3-year subadult male northwest of White Sulphur Springs, confirmed through photos taken by FWP trail cameras.
The second sighting was confirmed from a video of the bear on private land in the area between the Missouri River and Hound Creek, south of Cascade. The bear also is a subadult male.
No conflicts with the bear have been reported.
This is the third grizzly bear sighting this year in areas the species has not been present for, perhaps, a century.
In June, a pair of grizzlies apparently came down the Teton River from the Rocky Mountain Front and ended up near Stanford, east of Great Falls. The young bears were captured and euthanized after they preyed on livestock.
In recent years, bears have traveled the river corridors – Sun, Marias, Dearborn and Teton – east from the Rocky Mountain Front looking for natural foods. But the animals can also be attracted to unprotected opportunistic foods, like grain, livestock feed, beehives, livestock, garbage and pet food.
Here’s a good piece by Chris Peterson of the Hungry Horse News on the progress in grizzly bear management over the last few decades . . .
While tragic, Glacier Park’s Night of the Grizzlies did much to change grizzly bear and human backcountry use. “It was a lightning rod to the core of the Park Service,” said Glacier Park biologist John Waller.
While the Wilderness Act had been passed three years before that tragic night in 1967, there was no Leave No Trace ethic — leaving or burying garbage was common in bear country. Even Roy Ducat and July Helgeson buried the remains of their sandwiches before they camped for the night, a Hungry Horse News story noted.
Philosophy toward bear management changed quickly after the incident. Grizzlies were not nearly as common in Glacier in the late 1960s as they are today. They also weren’t protected, Waller said. The Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973 and grizzlies were listed as threatened in 1975.
At least three different legal challenges were launched Friday against the U.S. government’s decision to lift protections for grizzly bears in the Yellowstone National Park area that have been in place for more than 40 years.
The Northern Cheyenne Tribe, Center for Biological Diversity, The Humane Society, and WildEarth Guardians are among those challenging the plan to lift restrictions this summer.
Here’s the official press release from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks regarding the relisting of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem . . .
In the final step marking a remarkable recovery effort, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Thursday that grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem will be removed from the Endangered Species List.
“The delisting demonstrates Montana’s long-standing commitment to the recovery of grizzly bears,” said Martha Williams, director of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “FWP takes its public trust responsibility seriously and we intend to follow through in sustaining grizzly bears in Montana as well as all other species that we manage.”
Grizzly bears were put on the Endangered Species List in 1975. At that point as few as 136 bears remained in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). Today the population is estimated at more than 700.
Management of bears in Montana’s portion of the GYE will be guided by the interagency Conservation Strategy, which will ensure a recovered grizzly bear population and that FWP and the other states continue to meet the criteria in the recovery plan. This Conservation Strategy was approved by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee in December. The strategy along with the Southwest Montana Grizzly Management Plan and a Memorandum of Agreement between Idaho, Montana and Wyoming will ensure a healthy grizzly population is maintained in the GYE.
Also, the three states have agreed to manage bears conservatively and not down to a minimum number. The goal for state management is to maintain a healthy grizzly bear population in the GYE.
“The grizzly bear population in the GYE has met all the recovery goals and the necessary safeguards are in place. This is an amazing success story,” said Ken McDonald, FWP wildlife division administrator.
FWP remains committed to continue its monitoring of females with cubs, genetic variation, bear distribution and mortalities.
In addition, FWP staff will monitor and respond to instances of human-bear interaction, livestock conflicts and provide grizzly bear outreach and education.
Thursday’s announcement only applies to the GYE. Grizzlies in the rest of Montana, including the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, will remain on the Endangered Species List.
The feds officially announced they are removing the Yellowstone ecosystem grizzlies from the Endangered Species List . . .
For the first time in more than four decades, the Yellowstone grizzly bear is set to lose its federal protections under the Endangered Species Act. Citing a rebound in the bear’s population, the U.S. Department of Interior announced its intention Thursday to end these protections and return oversight of the animal’s status to the state level.
The agency says the rule to remove the grizzly from the endangered species list will be published “in coming days” and “will take effect 30 days after publication.”
“This achievement stands as one of America’s great conservation successes; the culmination of decades of hard work and dedication on the part of the state, tribal, federal and private partners,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement. “As a Montanan, I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together.”