Tag Archives: grizzly bear research

Grizzly research continues in the NCDE

Grizzly Bear - courtesy NPS
Grizzly Bear – courtesy NPS

The Hungry Horse News has pretty good coverage of last week’s meeting of Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem grizzly bear managers . . .

At the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem meeting last week, agencies gathered to provide updates on their fall projects of the predominantly bear-ish kind.

The NCDE is a subcommittee of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, which promotes grizzly bear population recovery across habitats and national borders.

U.S. Geological Survey scientist Tabitha Graves from the Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center talked about the bear population trend project she’s been working on.

Read more . . .

Also see:
Blackfeet protest grizzly hunting at bear manager meeting

Scientists report continued expansion of US grizzly bear range

Grizzly on ranch east of Yellowstone - Wyoming Game and Fish Department
Grizzly on ranch east of Yellowstone – Wyoming Game and Fish Department

This article really should have been longer; there’s a lot to think about here. Still, it’s worth reading . . .

Grizzly bears continue to expand their range amid an ongoing effort to turn over management of the bears from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to the states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, a federal official said.

“We’ve seen an 11 percent change in increasing range in just a couple of years,” Frank van Manen, head scientist of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, said last week at a meeting in Jackson.

Since coming under the protection of the Endangered Species Act, grizzlies have steadily expanded their habitat outward from the population’s core in Yellowstone National Park.

Read more . . .

Grizzly mortality steady

Grizzly Bear - Thomas Lefebvre, via Unsplash

Here’s a good summary from the Hungry Horse News of the latest grizzly bear mortality and population figures . . .

Recorded grizzly bear mortality in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem in 2016 was the same the year before, with 22 total bears killed, primarily by human means.

Removal by wildlife biologists due to human conflicts was the leading cause of death, at nine. One bear, a male, was removed as part of an augmentation program to move grizzly bears from the NCDE to the Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem.

Of the 22 deaths in 2016, 12 were females. Two were unknown sex. Two bears were poached and two were killed by property owners illegally. Three were hit by cars and two deaths were determined to be natural causes, one was accidentally poisoned and one was shot by a hunter who mistook it for a black bear.

Read more . . .

First look at grizzly bear ‘family tree’ study

Grizzly bear sow with three cubs - NPS photo
Grizzly bear sow with three cubs – NPS photo

The first results from a Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem grizzly bear “family tree” study are encouraging . . .

Using genetic analysis U.S. Geological Survey Scientist Tabitha Graves and Nate Mikle recently completed a first look at the “family tree” of grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.

The 8-million plus acre area stretches from Glacier National Park south to Ovando. The pair looked at genetic data gathered from 1,115 bears in a 2004 study done by researcher Kate Kendall and again in 2009-2012 through hair follicle samples of bears.

The family tree, printed out on one sheet of paper, stretches 20 feet, Graves noted in an interview last week. The thrust of this initial study was to determine the genetic diversity of bears on the fringes of the ecosystem, namely in the southeast and southwest corners.

Read more . . .

Grizzly bear DNA database grows by the day

Grizzly Bear - Thomas Lefebvre, via Unsplash
Grizzly Bear – Thomas Lefebvre, via Unsplash

Here’s a good article by Chris Peterson in the Hungry Horse News discussing how the use of DNA analysis in grizzly bear research is really hitting its stride . . .

This summer, grizzly bears have been confirmed in the Big Hole River Valley of Montana for the first time in the last 100 years.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks bear manager Kevin Frey said they do have hair samples from at least one grizzly from earlier this summer in the Big Hole and the state plans on having the samples analyzed to find out if biologists can track the origins of the bear.

The case is just another illustration of how far DNA analysis of bears has come in the past 25 years.

Read more . . .

Grizzly delisting plan gets new public comment review

Grizzly bear sow with three cubs - NPS photo
Grizzly bear sow with three cubs – NPS photo

Wildlife managers continue to work on a plan to remove grizzly bears from the Endangered Species List. Meanwhile, there’s evidence of contact between the two main grizzly population centers . . .

Federal plans to delist the grizzly bear from Endangered Species Act protection will get a second round of public comment.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Tuesday announcement follows its release of a peer-review report generally approving its management plan for allowing state management of grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Coincidentally, it also arrives on the heels of reports that Yellowstone grizzlies may be making contact with their fellows in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem north of Missoula.

Montana, Idaho and Wyoming state wildlife managers have all proposed plans for both protecting and hunting Yellowstone grizzly bear populations, assuming they leave federal management. Northern grizzlies are considered a separate population, although they are undergoing a similar delisting process that isn’t as far along as the Yellowstone one.

Read more . . .

Glacier Park grizzly bear monitoring continues

Curious bears investigate a bear trap in Glacier National Park - courtesy National Park Service
Curious bears investigate a bear trap in Glacier National Park – courtesy National Park Service

Here’s the annual announcement of the ongoing grizzly monitoring project in Glacier Park. It came with a really cool photo this time . . .

A long-term program to monitor grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem continues this summer in Glacier National Park. Park officials said Wednesday that wildlife managers will begin work next week to deploy bait stations, trail cameras and traps to capture grizzly bears.

The bait stations and trap sites will be marked with brightly colored warnings and closure signs. Visitors are asked to respect the posted signs and stay out of the bait station sites. The trapping efforts will continue into October.

The grizzly bear monitoring program began in 2004 and is led by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Read more . . .

Also read: Biologists to Begin Seasonal Grizzly Bear Capturing for Research and Management (Montana FWP)

As Yellowstone grizzly population rises, so does death toll

Cinca - 5 May 2015

More grizzlies got into trouble in the Yellowstone area this year, but that is sort of a good thing . . .

The number of grizzly bear deaths or removals in the Yellowstone region climbed to an all-time high in 2015, but biologists say they’re not worried about the animal’s long-term survival in the area.

The known or suspected deaths of 55 bears shouldn’t interfere with plans to remove the region’s grizzlies from protection under the Endangered Species Act, Frank van Manen, leader of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, said Wednesday.

“This year should be considered within the context of what we’ve seen in terms of the long-term trend,” van Manen said.

Read more . . .

Report on last week’s Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee meeting

Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee Meeting

From Debo Powers, NFPA President, comes the following report . . .

Representatives from all of the agencies who manage and/or research grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) met on Wednesday, December 2, at Lone Pine State Park near Kalispell to share information about grizzly bear recovery efforts.  The meeting room was packed with agency personnel, scientists, representatives from conservation groups (including NFPA), and the general public.

Chris Servheen, who reported on the Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy, said that they are building the foundation for delisting grizzly bears, but are not ready to make that proposal yet.  He indicated that the Conservation Strategy should be finalized by the end of 2016.  He stated that within the next ten years, there should be connectivity (bears moving freely) between the NCDE and Yellowstone which will insure genetic viability between these bear populations.

Bear Management specialists from each district (including Tim Manley) reported on 2015 bear management activities, including human conflicts.  According to Tim, chickens topped the list of attractants causing bear problems.  Cat food was the second biggest problem.

Each agency (FS, FWP, DNR, GNP, BLM, FWS, Salish Kootenai and Blackfoot Tribes) gave updates related to the Draft Habitat Standards for the lands that they manage.
Cecily Costello (who replaced Rick Mace after he retired) presented updated figures on Population Monitoring.  Estimates are that there are 837-1039 grizzlies in the NCDE with a 2.3% increase in the population each year.  (This is a smaller increase than the estimates that Rick Mace made in 2012 which showed a 3.1% increase annually.)

Tabitha Graves presented research on how climate change is affecting huckleberries, which is a keystone species for lots of wildlife including grizzlies.  Food supply affects reproduction and survival.  This year, the berry size was smaller and there was lower productivity.  There was a month difference in the timing for berry development this year and scientists are expecting this year’s weather patterns to happen more frequently.  The question is:  In future seasons, how will this affect grizzly populations and the number of human conflicts if food is scarce?

The meeting ended with a few questions from the public.

Grizzly bear’s diet revealed by a single hair

Forensic hair analysis comes to bear research . . .

U.S. and Canadian researchers have found they can get a good idea of a grizzly bear’s diet over several months by looking at a single hair. The technique, which measures residues of trace metals, can be a major tool in determining if the threatened animals are getting enough of the right foods to eat.

The technique can also help determine how much mercury bears are ingesting. A study published last year by many of the same researchers found that two out of three grizzlies sampled in coastal British Columbia had mercury levels exceeding a neurochemical effect threshold proposed for polar bears.

“You can use the technology for both applications,” said Marie Noël, lead author of both the mercury study and a more recent study, published in Science of the Total Environment, on how the technique works. “You can see how much mercury they’re getting but also estimate how much salmon they’re eating.”

Read more . . .