Looks like the success rate for relocating grizzlies is not very encouraging . . .
Moving grizzly bears is no easy task. It’s far better to let them move themselves.
That’s the takeaway from a new study published in The Wildlife Society’s Journal of Wildlife Management. The investigation analyzes 40 years of grizzly translocation events performed in Alberta, Canada. It determines that out of 110 attempts, just 33 translocations—or 30 percent—succeeded.
That conclusion supports some long-established foundations for our work here at Vital Ground. Wildlife managers use translocation both to remove problem bears from an area and to bolster recovering grizzly populations. In either case, the new research demonstrates that relocating bears is far from a cure-all.
The North Fork Preservation Association hosts Montana Conversation “An Inconvenient Grizzly” with Greg Smith on July 4th at 3:00pm. The program is being presented at Home Ranch Bottoms 8950 North Fork Road. The presentation is free and open to the public. Funding for Montana Conversations is provided by Humanities Montana through grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Montana’s Cultural Trust, and private donations.
Humans have been on the North American scene for an estimated 30,000 to 15,000years. Our arrival was preceded by the grizzly bear by perhaps 20,000 years – who would cross the same tenuous landscape bridge, arriving in North America some50,000 to 60,000 years ago. It is estimated that by the time of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, upwards of 5,000 to 10,000 grizzly bears roamed the American West. The settlement period of the West would see a dramatic decline in grizzly bear numbers and a corresponding decrease in available habitat. Now, as New West meets Old West,grizzly bear numbers are a focal point of concern and contention. Join Smith in biological, cultural, and philosophical look at the grizzly bear in contemporary Montana.
Greg Smith lives in Bozeman and was a Ranger Naturalist and Back-country Ranger in Glacier National Park for nearly 20 years. A longtime believer in the power of education,Smith now works with kids and adults as a storyteller, naturalist and historian. In his spare time, Greg enjoys trail running, backpacking, Nordic skiing and traveling the world on his bike.
For more information, please contact Flannery Freund at (406) 888-5572.
Most people who live up the North Fork call themselves “North Forkers.” You’ll know a North Forker when you meet one. At meetings outside of the North Fork, introductions usually go “my name is so and so and I’m a North Forker.” This is meant to imply a few things. For starters, an aptitude for self-sufficiency. For some of us, though, it’s more of an attitude with a willingness to learn. Another, the affliction of joy when things don’t go according to plan 80% of the time. In the shed that usually means a zip tie to the rescue while in the kitchen it’s more like what’s in the pantry is what’s on the menu. Being a North Forker also implies a code of living. Living with bears. Living with each other, although many will joke about which one makes a better neighbor. In true North Forker fashion, the place has a unique history of what living with bears looks like. At backcountry cabins you’ll see 2-foot long nails spiked through the heavy log doors, an old school ranger “bear proofing” their cache. Back in the ‘90s downtown Polebridge was full of Karelian bear dogs, the first of many special touches grizzly bear management specialist, Tim Manley, gave in his career with FWP. The years following he taught landowners to secure attractants and bear proof places like garages where food and garbage is stored until a town run is imperative. Thanks to those educational opportunities the North Fork is now a model of how people and bears can coexist given the right tools, although this fall would indicate that education is imperative after improper food and garbage storage by a few new landowners led to the death of four grizzlies.
This brings us to the recent announcement that the state is petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove Endangered Species Act protections for grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, opening up possible hunting opportunities in areas surrounding Glacier. As a former Glacier Park Ranger and seasoned local business owner, I have seen that the experience visitors want most is the chance to see a grizzly in the wild. Protected. Secondly, the grizzly bear population in Montana consists of two very separated “islands.” One in Yellowstone and one in Glacier and there is no evidence of intermingling yet which, in my opinion, is necessary to achieve “recovery” of a threatened species. According to USFWS, grizzly bears currently inhabit just 6% of their historic range. The North Fork is a decent chunk. To be a North Forker is to live with grizzlies while cutting firewood or fixing the snowblower, always remembering that the remote corner of the ecosystem spanning the Rocky Mountains you get to call home, too. As fellow North Forker Doug Chadwick says in his new book, “Four Fifths a Grizzly”: Do unto your ecosystems as you would have them do unto you. Up here, that means neighbors caroling on a full moon night. Happy Holidays to all!
Here’s another good story from the recent meeting of the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem grizzly bear subcommittee. Of special note is that the bear managed, with considerable effort, to make it past Interstate 90, a substantial barrier to animal migration . . .
Slowly, but surely, grizzly bears continue to expand their range in Montana. Perhaps the most interesting find has been a male grizzly bear that moved south of Interstate 90 in the past year or so and now has a home range near Deer Lodge, outside of Butte.
The bear was radio-collared after getting into trouble with chickens, but has pretty much stayed out of trouble since, noted Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks biologist Cecily Costello at a meeting earlier this month of the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem grizzly bear subcommittee. The bi-annual meeting brings bear managers and land management agencies to discuss all things grizzly.
According to radio-collared data, the grizzly made multiple attempts to cross Interstate 90. She said they believe the bear finally actually went under the highway, where a bridge goes over the Clark Fork River. That passage also allowed the grizzly to go under railroad tracks that parallel the highway as well.
Here’s an excellent article about Tim Manley. Unlike several others this week, this one, by Tristan Scott of the Flathead Beacon, is not hiding behind a paywall . . .
When renowned grizzly bear biologist Tim Manley began his role as Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ (FWP) Grizzly Bear Management Specialist for Northwest Montana, a position he’s held since 1993, the work was funded by BNSF Railway, which faced legal mandates requiring the company to mitigate grizzly bear mortality due to its railroad operations in the region — grain spills, for example, were a lethal temptation for grizzlies browsing food sources along the Middle Fork Flathead River corridor.
Today, the human-wildlife interface is so expansive that points of conflict emerge much closer to home — quite literally in our backyards — but they’re more often the result of bird feeders, barbecue residue, chicken coops, garbage cans, and other unsecured attractants than industrial mishaps such as train derailments.
After a celebrated 37-year career with FWP, Manley recently announced his plan to retire, but it’s not for a lack of grizzly bear work to keep him busy. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, with more bears and people roaming the same landscape than ever before.
Oh, cripes. He we go again. Montana Governor Greg Gianforte wants the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the region’s grizzly bears from the endangered species list. Three articles are linked here, leading with one from Montana Free Press that seems the most complete . . .
Gov. Greg Gianforte’s office announced today that the state is petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove Endangered Species Act protections for grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, citing robust population counts and touting the state’s ability to independently manage Montana’s grizzly bears, which have been federally protected since 1975.
“We worked on grizzly bear recovery for decades. We were successful and switched to a focus on conflict management years ago,” FWP Director Hank Worsech said in a release about the petition, which seeks to remove federal protections for an estimated 1,100 grizzlies in western Montana. “We’ve shown the ability to manage bears, protect their habitat and population numbers. It’s time for us to have full authority for grizzly bears in Montana.”
Here’s the latest from Tim Manley on the tragic saga of Monica and her three cubs. It was posted to Facebook in the early morning hours of September 6th. Scroll to the end of this post for a photo gallery . . .
Update on the grizzly bears… well, it was a difficult week. One that I would rather not repeat. I have read some of the comments and I understand everyone’s concerns and feelings. I think it is important to put a few things into context so everyone knows what transpired.
I am not going to mention names or locations but I think most people have heard about some of the locations where these incidents occurred. We tried to prevent further conflicts from occurring, but as you will see, this family group of bears were very food-conditioned and the property damage was extensive and knowing what they were going to do next was difficult to predict.
The adult female grizzly bear was known as Bear #418 or as we called her “Monica”. Based on the annual cementum of her premolar, her age was 20 years old. She was originally captured in 2004 as a sub-adult on the east side of the mountains at the site of a calf depredation. They didn’t know if she was the bear that killed the calf but the decision was made to relocate her to the west side of Glacier Park. She remained in the North Fork for 17 years and spent a majority of her time in Glacier Park, but denned in Hay Creek and on Cyclone.
Four environmental groups filed suit in federal court Aug. 5 against the Forest Service, the Department of Interior and the Montana Logging Association challenging the 2018 Flathead National Forest plan.
The suit was not unexpected. The groups, WildEarth Guardians, Western Watersheds Project, Swan View Coalition, and Friends of the Wild Swan have maintained the that the Forest Plan, which was crafted over the course of several years, was, in essence, illegally handling the way the Forest would manage roads into the future.
At the heart of the case, the plaintiffs maintain, is the new plan disregards road closure standards that were set in the previous plan.
The Swan View Coalition, Friends of the Wild Swan and Brian Peck are concerned that the Flathead Forest is not adequately evaluating the impact of establishing new trails . . .
Two local environmental groups have raised objections to a planned bike and pedestrian path network north of Columbia Falls in the lower Whitefish Range, claiming it could result in more conflicts with grizzly bears and displace other wildlife.
Grizzly bears are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Many biologists, however, believe the population locally has recovered; while others disagree,
The Swan View Coalition, Friends of the Wild Swan and Columbia Falls resident and wildlife consultant Brian Peck are all claiming the Forest Service should take a cumulative approach and create an Environmental Impact Statement that encompasses several other projects that add trails to the Whitefish Range and areas near the Hungry Horse Reservoir.
Cutworm moths have arrived in the high country, along with the bears that eat them . . .
The dinner bell is ringing high in the Mission Mountains, and grizzly bears are heeding the call.
Every year in July, cutworm moths migrate from the plains toward the alpine highlands of the Mission Mountains, where the moths feed on late-blooming alpine wildflowers. Grizzly bears follow. The moths provide grizzlies with the highest source of protein available – even higher than feeding on deer.
The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have closed about 10,000 acres in the Mission Mountains Tribal Wilderness to let the grizzlies feed without human interruption.