The Flathead Beacon has a good story on the plans to remove grizzly bears from the Endangered Species List in this corner of Montana . . .
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to announce plans this September to delist grizzlies from the federal Endangered Species Act in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, the rugged chunk of Northwest Montana that includes Glacier National Park, parts of five national forests and two reservations.
It’s also believed to be home to the largest population of grizzly bears in the lower 48 states.
The strategy to move grizzlies from federal to state control has long been in the works, and bear managers are now coordinating the scientific and policy research necessary to propose a delisting rule.
“We have believed this population has likely met the demographic recovery goals for many years now,” Hillary Cooley, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) grizzly bear recovery coordinator, said. “We’ve met our recovery goal and we’re probably well above it, so this is a good time to start evaluating it formally.”
NFPA member Carol “Kelly” Edwards has had an op-ed published in several local and regional papers advocating against hunting of grizzly bears . . .
Letter written to Gov. Matt Mead of Wyoming…
As a neighboring Montana citizen, I am so proud of my state wildlife officials for having resisted pressure from “special interest groups” that somehow believe that they should have the right to shoot the very creatures that the rest of us are all spending our tax dollars to save. We want them, and the places they need in order to survive and thrive, protected. If you like all of your bears stuffed, hanging on walls, or in captivity, then you belong in a museum, a zoo, or a bar. You don’t belong in charge of live bears or their living conditions.
Our states can continue to thrive and expand our economic opportunities if we just take care of these critters and keep the things and places that live only in our northwest Rocky Mountain areas alive and healthy. They are a magnificent heritage.
These bears amaze people. Visitors come from all over the world for a chance to see one of these magnificent creatures. They, in themselves, not to mention our other magnificent top predators, and all those who form the chain of wildlife, create a base for an ever-increasing economy for those states that still enjoy their presence. You, of all people know that by far the large majority of our state earnings come from out of state visitors, and people who move here for the “quality of life” (read: clean air, water, beautiful scenery and access to the awesome public lands, natural parks and wildlife that live in them). It is a fiction that we have to sell “kill permits” to rich hunters, in order to keep wildlife around. This is just robbing Peter to pay Paul, a silly strategy no matter where it’s applied.
Think of our states and their traditional economies: mining, timber, hunting and some cattle and sheep ranching. Any way, you see it, no matter whose fault it is or isn’t, the climate and the shortage of water, especially in the west of the country, is making agriculture and animal husbandry very difficult to impossible, and it’s getting worse all the time. What happens when all the ore, oil, gas, forests and grazing and water for the animals are gone? Are we all just going to up and leave the stubble and rubble and poisoned water?
Our state needs a modern economy, a sustainable economy. It’s time to help the rest of us preserve a valuable resource that belongs to, and can earn a living for, all of us here in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. Don’t kill the golden goose, er, bear.
Ending a period of uncertainty, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced his support for grizzly bear restoration in the North Cascades . . .
The federal government intends to restore grizzly bears in the remote North Cascade Mountains of Washington state, a goal that represents “the American conservation ethic come to life,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Friday.
Zinke made the announcement during a visit to North Cascades National Park’s headquarters in Sedro-Woolley, about 75 miles (121 kilometers) north of Seattle.
The Department of the Interior announced in 2014 that it would consider relocating grizzlies to aid their recovery in the Cascades. An environmental review has been underway, but in recent months there have been questions about whether it would continue. Zinke made clear it would, with a formal decision expected by the end of the year.
“Restoring the grizzly bear to the North Cascades Ecosystem is the American conservation ethic come to life,” Zinke said in a news release. “The loss of the grizzly bear in the North Cascades would disturb the ecosystem and rob the region of an icon.”
Although there’s no effort in place to restore grizzly bears to the Bitterroots, they should repopulate the area on their own, given enough time . . .
While the potential for grizzly bears in the Bitterroot Mountains was a topic of discussion during last week’s annual meeting of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, area wildlife managers say they don’t think any have established residence here — yet.
The Bitterroot National Forest and the Bitterroot-Selway Wilderness area are prime grizzly bear habitat, notes Dave Lockman, a wildlife biologist with the forest. As their population continues to increase elsewhere, they’re expanding their ranges.
Lockman noted that a grizzly bear sighting was confirmed in 2016 in the upper Big Hole River area, and that one was identified on private property on Sunset Bench southeast of Stevensville in 2002. That bear is thought have crossed the Sapphire Range from the Rock Creek drainage. In addition, a black bear hunter killed a mature male grizzly in 2007 in the North Fork of Kelly Creek on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest, about 60 miles north of what’s considered the Bitterroot ecosystem. That bear was genetically associated with the grizzly populations in the Selkirk Mountains in northern Idaho.
Lots of interesting reading; lots of useful links. Recommended . . .
Montana’s grizzly bears better hope they packed their reading glasses as they settle into their winter naptime: There’s a lot of homework to finish over the Christmas holidays.
The Flathead National Forest Plan final draft, released Thursday, includes the proposed rules for managing grizzlies in four national forests that share management responsibility for the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. Public comments are due in mid-February.
On Monday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put out a request for reviews of its draft criteria for habitat-based recovery of the NCDE grizzlies. That same day, it published four peer-review responses to the plan. It also announced a Jan. 3 workshop in Missoula to collect “the input of scientists, the public and interested organizations.” Written responses to the regulations are due Jan. 26.
Work on grizzly bear recovery in the North Cascades Ecosystem has been halted even as the continental United States’ two largest grizzly populations near removal from Endangered Species Act protection.
North Cascades National Park Superintendent Karen Taylor-Goodrich told the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee on Wednesday that her staff had been asked to stop work on its environmental impact statement by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s office.
The order also stalls discussions with Canadian wildlife managers who oversee a similar grizzly recovery process in British Columbia, she said.