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.
A timely reminder about participating in the ongoing process for delisting grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) . . .
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking input from scientists and the general public on draft criteria for the eventual recovery of the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem grizzly bear.
The draft criteria are a supplement to the Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan, which has guided federal management of these animals since 1982. As the Daily Inter Lake reported last month, this effort could soon bring Northwest Montana bears to a crucial milestone: removal from the Endangered Species Act’s threatened species list and transfer to state management.
“The proposed objective and measurable habitat-based recovery criteria, once finalized, will help inform our recovery efforts as well as any future evaluations regarding the status of these bears under the ESA,” explained spokeswoman Roya Mogadam in an email to the Daily Inter Lake.
The Washington Post has a good, media-rich article on the current status of grizzly bear recovery around Yellowstone . . .
Dean Peterson, a rangy fourth-generation rancher with a handlebar mustache, is used to factoring in all sorts of challenges as he works his vast spread in the Big Hole Valley. Summer wildfires that can sweep down the pine-blanketed mountains to the west, harsh winters that can endanger his thousand-plus head of cattle.
Yet in the back of his mind these days is a threat most of his forefathers never faced: grizzly bears. Settlers pushing West had all but exterminated the hulking predators by the time Peterson’s great-grandfather arrived here in the late 1800s.
A year ago, however, a trail camera in the nearby forest snapped a grainy photo of a grizzly crossing a stream, marking the first confirmed sighting in the valley in a century. Then in May, Peterson was stunned to see one lope across a snow-dusted road as he drove a four-wheeler a few miles from his property.
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.