Tag Archives: grizzly bear research

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 . . .

Experts mull path towards grizzly delisting

Again, a lot of discussion of a shift from grizzly bear recovery to grizzly bear management . . .

Top grizzly bear experts from Montana, U.S. and Canadian governments descended on Many Glacier Hotel last week to discuss the future of grizzly bear populations throughout the Northwest, including in and around Glacier National Park.

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, created in 1983 to oversee recovery of grizzly bears in the lower 48 states, is considering removing the protected status under the Endangered Species Act of two bear populations: those in the Northern Continental Divide and Yellowstone ecosystems.

Grizzlies were one of the first high-profile listings under the 1973 law, listed as a “threatened” species in 1975 after being extirpated from the vast majority of their historical range.

“The animals are leading the way — they’re recovering themselves, along with a lot of our help…”

Read more . . .

Researchers start their Spring round of grizzly bear trapping

Personnel from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will be live-trapping and collaring a couple of grizzly bears in the North Fork area over the next few days. So, if you see the warning signs, stay clear of the sites. . .

Here’s what Rick Mace had to say . . .

The grizzly bear population monitoring team would like to capture and radio collar a couple grizzly bears in the NF Flathead River starting in the next few days. We would be working both on Forest Service and private lands.  All of the Forest Service sites would be off of the existing open road system as we have done in the past. All sites will have approved signs and we will obviously avoid any active timber sales and trail heads.  Most of our sites have been used now for many years without incident.  We anticipate capture sites in Trail, Red Meadow,  and Moose Creeks. Also we may work off the main North Fork Road near Mud (Garnet) Lake going towards the border.  We would like to run the capture program for a maximum of about 10 days depending on success, starting later this week.

Report from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee meeting

Cinco - 5 May 2015
Cinco – 5 May 2015

Debo Powers, NFPA Vice President, attended the spring Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem grizzly bear management meeting yesterday. Here is her report:

I remember the old days when Chuck Jonkel held an annual Grizzly Bear Research meeting in Sondreson Hall to share grizzly bear research with North Fork landowners. We would sit on the uncomfortable wooden benches in the sweltering temperatures of a hot summer day and listen to the enthusiastic reports from young bear researchers. Those were the meetings that fanned the flames of my love for grizzly bears.

It has been many years since those meetings happened, but the memories associated with them prompted me to attend Wednesday’s meeting of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC), which was held in the conference room of the Hungry Horse Ranger Station. Rather than the animated stories of youthful researchers filled with an infectious passion for learning about grizzlies in order to save them from extinction, today’s meeting featured reports from people from various agencies and tribes who have successfully brought about grizzly bear recovery in the Crown of the Continent. It’s amazing to see how things can change in a few decades when humans work together to save a fellow species.

The packed meeting was facilitated with humor and style by Deb Mucklow, the Spotted Bear District Ranger. Numerous agencies and tribes participated in the meeting. Members of the public , representatives from various environmental groups, and reporters from Flathead Beacon, Hungry Horse News, and NF News were present in the audience.

The reports were fascinating and focused on the conservation strategies that have been used by different groups in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE). Some of the topics covered were: the effectiveness of food storage orders to decrease grizzly habituation, educational resources to train humans to operate awarely in grizzly country, the use of snow rangers and fly-overs to monitor snowmobiling in grizzly habitat (especially when bears are emerging from dens), and reports from management officials, like Tim Manley, on bear conflicts this spring.

Rick Mace, who will be retiring soon, received a beautiful plaque with a huge grizzly paw for his three decades of leadership in grizzly bear conservation and management. Afterwards, he presented the results of his trend monitoring research on grizzly bear populations in the 23 management units of the NCDE. It was nice to notice that we live in one of most densely populated grizzly habitats in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. Rick’s final written report will be available in a few months.

It was a day of information and sharing . . . a day well spent, despite the beautiful weather that beckoned us to be outdoors in grizzly country.

Flathead National Forest hosts the spring NCDE grizzly bear management meeting

Another darn reason to run to town. From the official Forest Service press release . . .

The public is invited to participate in the upcoming spring Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) grizzly bear management meeting hosted by Flathead National Forest. The meeting is scheduled from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on May 6, 2015 at the Hungry Horse/Glacier View and Spotted Bear Ranger District Office located at 10 Hungry Horse Drive in Hungry Horse, Montana.

During the meeting there will be updates from NCDE members on the Draft NCDE Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy, work plans for the coming year, educational tools, bear mortality rates for 2014 and bear management spring activity.

The Flathead National Forest is one of many agencies and organizations working to ensure the sustainability of the grizzly bear population in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. Additional information on those efforts can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/grizzly/continentalindex.html

For more information contact the NCDE Chair, Deb Mucklow at 406/387-3800.

Peripatetic grizzly’s 2,800-mile tour intrigues experts

When the state and federal grizzly bear people got together in Missoula this week, one of the highlights of the meeting was a discussion of Ethyl, a grizzly who decided to take a lengthy tour of Western Montana and Northern Idaho . . .

The roomful of biologists had lots of funny ideas why Ethyl the grizzly bear logged 2,800 miles arcing from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, past Florence and Missoula and eventually up to Eureka by way of Glacier National Park.

Maybe she ate a bad chicken. Or she was looking for someone she couldn’t find. Or she couldn’t find her back to her home range northeast of Bigfork – the one place she noticeably missed in the three-year ramble.

Read more . . .

Update: A Fox News version of this story includes a map showing Ethyl’s travels.

Is a gunshot like a dinner bell for bears?

A group of researchers is performing a very interesting study on how bears and hunters interact . . .

From almost four miles away, the grizzly bear appeared to have picked up the elk carcass’ stench.

Researchers were able to revisit the grizzly’s trek as it walked along the edge of a lake, eventually swimming across the end of the water to reach the carcass, because the bear was wearing a GPS collar. The same location information showed the bear visiting and moving away from the carcass several times in following days.

Read more . . .