Spring has sprung, which means bears are emerging from hibernation and heading to the valley bottoms looking for something to eat. This piece from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is a pretty good write-up . . .
Bears are emerging from dens across northwest Montana and residents are reminded to remove food attractants from their properties to avoid conflicts.
Montana is home to grizzly bears and black bears that roam the mountains and valley floors from spring through late fall before denning in wintertime. Starting in mid-March, bears begin emerging and move to lower-elevation areas seeking food.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks encourages residents to “Be Bear Aware” and remove attractants every spring by April 1.
“With this year’s above-average snowpack, bears are coming out of their dens and digging out from several feet of snow. There’s no place for them to go but down toward the valley floor to feed,” said Tim Manley, FWP Region 1 Grizzly Bear Management Specialist.
Residents are asked to remove or secure food attractants such as garbage and bird feeders and bird seed. Chicken and livestock should be properly secured with electric fencing or inside a closed shed with a door.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department announced today a proposal to allow two dozen grizzly bears in the Yellowstone region to be killed through a state trophy hunt. The announcement comes despite strong public and tribal opposition to trophy hunting of the iconic bear and litigation challenging the removal of Endangered Species Act protections last summer.
NFPA is opposed to the trophy hunting of grizzlies.
Bonnie Rice from Sierra Club said in a press release: “Grizzly bears are one of the slowest animals to reproduce; it takes a female grizzly ten years to replace herself in the population. It’s a pipe dream to believe that hunters are going to be able to distinguish between male and female grizzly bears. We will undoubtedly lose more female grizzlies in a hunt– even more than authorized under this proposal.”
Here’s a write-up by the Jackson Hole News & Guide . . .
The first Wyoming grizzly bear hunt in over four decades will target 24 animals if commissioners who oversee the state’s wildlife sign off on a proposal released Friday.
A topic of fierce controversy, the hunt is being devised in a way that state officials hope will limit the chance of the bold large carnivore being shot in public view, or killed adjacent to Grand Teton National Park. A no-hunting zone will abut the east boundary of the park, and throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem it will be illegal to kill a grizzly within a half-mile of a named highway, Wyoming Game and Fish Department Chief Warden Brian Nesvik said.
“The intention is to address public concern that was focused on there being hunting and wildlife viewing going on at the same time,” Nesvik said.
The Missoulian has an interesting story about how a farmer in the Mission Valley is dealing with bear conflicts . . .
Standing in a hollowed-out section in the middle of his 80-acre cornfield, Greg Schock bends over and picks up one of dozens of corn cobs scattered about. It’s been picked clean of every kernel.
On the dark black ground just barely moistened by Thursday night’s welcome rain, there are grizzly bear tracks and fresh scat dotted with kernels of corn.
From where he’s standing, the longtime Mission Valley dairyman’s view past the edge of the clearing is obscured by the thick rows of corn that will sometime soon become the silage that his cows will depend on to eat through the winter months.
A judge has ruled that the isolated grizzly bear population in the Cabinet-Yaak area can be treated as endangered . . .
Animals and plants can be considered endangered even if they are not on the brink of extinction, a judge ruled in overturning the U.S. government’s re-classification of a small population of grizzly bears living in the forests of Montana and Idaho near the Canada border.
Tuesday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen said that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is prohibited from narrowing the definition an endangered species in its future decisions without explaining why it wants to make the policy change.
The federal Endangered Species Act defines an endangered species as one that is “in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.”
They finally brought someone in to take Chris Servheen’s old job. Dr. Hilary Cooley is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s new grizzly bear recovery coordinator . . .
The federal official charged with leading the U.S. polar bear program has departed Alaska for Missoula, Montana, to oversee grizzly bear recovery in the Lower 48.
Hilary Cooley, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s new grizzly bear recovery coordinator, has stepped into the job vacated by 35-year veteran Chris Servheen. Cooley will have the opportunity to finish what Servheen started: seeing through the Endangered Species Act “delisting” process for Yellowstone-area grizzlies, which turns over jurisdiction from Fish and Wildlife to Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.
The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s grizzlies, she said, are ready to be managed by the states.
The grizzly bear delisting process is making its way through the federal bureaucracy.
It’s a lot like watching paint dry . . .
The work of crafting a draft final rule to delist the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s grizzly bears is complete, and now the plans must navigate the many layers of federal bureaucracy.
The timeline for publishing the rule is unclear, in part because of the transition of presidential administrations and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s own influx status, said Jodi Bush, the agency’s Montana Ecological Field Office supervisor.
“We’ve had all of our packages stopped in headquarters lately,” Bush said in an interview at the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee’s Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee meeting held in Jackson last week. “They want to look at stuff. With the [recently protected] bumblebee it took an additional 39 days for them to get through it.”
A couple of years ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service started taking public comments on a plan to restore the grizzly population of Washington’s Cascade Range. Now, they are a step closer to a plan that will include using some of Montana’s grizzlies to seed a new population in the North Cascades . . .
In a few years, some grizzly bears from Northwest Montana could have new homes in the North Cascades Ecosystem of Washington and British Columbia. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service earlier this year released a draft environmental impact statement to reintroduce the iconic species back to the Cascades. At least some of the bears would come from Northwest Montana if the project comes to fruition.
The 6.1 million acre North Cascades have a smattering of grizzlies in Canada and in the U.S., the last known breeding female was seen in the early 1990s. The bears were hunted and trapped to near extinction by the Hudson Bay Co. about 200 years ago, noted Park Service spokesman Jack Oelfke.
Isolated by both geography and human barriers like highways and railroads, the bears have little chance of re-establishing populations on their own.
The Missoulian has an excellent story on the board of review findings concerning last summer’s mountain biker fatality. It includes links to the actual report document, as well as to the board’s recommendations for alleviating future biking-bear encounters . . .
An analysis of the fatal collision last summer between a grizzly bear and a mountain biker near Coram recommends more safety evaluation before new biking trails are built in grizzly habitat.
“Current safety messaging at trailheads and in the media is usually aimed at hikers,” the interagency board of review report stated. “However mountain biking is in many ways more likely to result in injury or death from bear attacks to people who participate in this activity.
“In addition, there are increasing numbers of mountain bikers using bear habitat and pressure to increase mountain bike access to areas where black bear and grizzly bear encounters are very likely.”