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.
There is quite a bit of interest in Governor Bullock’s grizzly bear advisory panel . . .
More than 150 people have applied to sit on an advisory committee to come up with recommendations on how to manage Montana’s grizzly bears.
Randy Arnold, a regional supervisor with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, tells The Missoulian the application process has been “flooded,” and the committee will probably consist of fewer than 20 people.
Gov. Steve Bullock announced in March he would appoint the committee, a move that came shortly after a judge restored federal protections for grizzlies in and around Yellowstone National Park. Bears from Yellowstone and in northwestern Montana have been spreading into new areas, triggering conflicts with ranchers, hunters and others.
Montana’s grizzly bears are not just wandering out onto the high plains east of the Divide, they are also showing up in neighboring states to the west . . .
As Montana grizzly bears have pushed beyond their usual mountain strongholds into the Bitterroot and Judith Basin areas, Washington state residents got a surprise visit this fall from a 476-pound grizzly west of the Pend Oreille River.
“That was an eye-opener for the state of Washington,” said Wayne Kasworm, U.S. Fish and Wildlife grizzly manager in Libby. “It was an unusual movement, like the bear in Stevensville and the bears showing up east of the Rocky Mountain Front. That was well outside of its expected range.”
The fall update of the Cabinet-Yaak/Selkirk grizzly activity released on Friday raised another new grizzly issue. A two-year-old male grizzly that was transplanted in the Cabinet Mountains last July got spotted prowling around a black-bear bait site in the Idaho Panhandle. FWS officials captured it and released it back in Montana around the south fork of the Bull River, but it returned to the bait site in September and now is believed to be crisscrossing the border near Huron.
This year’s “a fed bear is a dead bear” lesson: Those grizzlies attracted to the Polebridge area by the oats in the hay field south of town eventually forced management action by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Two are dead; one was relocated to Glacier Park . . .
It’s an active season for bears as they prepare to den for winter. Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials say they’ve euthanized two yearlings that had become habituated to humans, and captured two others.
From the FWP press release:
Yearling Grizzly Bears Captured Near Polebridge, Euthanized
On Sunday, Oct 21, 2018, Montana FWP staff captured two yearling grizzly bears north of Polebridge and euthanized the animals.
Landowners reported that the yearlings were ripping into a yurt, broke into a cooler, got into garbage, tried to get into bear-resistant garbage containers, and attempted to break into cars and trailers. The adult female was observed with the yearlings but mostly stayed in the background. The yearlings were very food-conditioned and habituated to human presence.
In response to oral arguments by a coalition of wildlife advocates, U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen just granted a 14-day temporary restraining order suspending grizzly bear hunts in Wyoming and Idaho while decides whether the federal government should reinstate federal protections for the bears.
Here’s a pretty good summary of Montana’s proposed management plan for grizzly bears in the northwest section of the state . . .
Wildlife officials endorsed a plan Thursday to keep northwestern Montana’s grizzly population at roughly 1,000 bears as the state seeks to bolster its case that lifting federal protections will not lead to the bruins’ demise.
The proposal adopted on a preliminary vote by Fish, Wildlife and Parks commissioners sets a target of at least 800 grizzlies across a 16,000-square mile (42,000-square kilometer) expanse just south of the U.S.-Canada border.
However, officials pledged to manage for a higher number, about 1,000 bears, to give the population a protective buffer, said Dillon Tabish with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
This well-researched article by Rob Chaney of the Missoulian uses bear roadkill along US93 as a starting point to make a broader examination of grizzly mortality . . .
The dictionary defines “mortality” as both death and loss. For grizzly bears along the Northern Continental Divide, both definitions came into play last month when the ecosystem recorded five grizzly mortalities, although only four bears died. And because two of the deaths were adult females of breeding age, the loss could have longer term consequences.
On July 24, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks workers found a dead sow grizzly near the southern end of Hungry Horse Reservoir in the Spotted Bear Ranger District. The 16-year-old female had a radio collar that was sending out a mortality signal, indicating it had stopped moving. The carcass was too decomposed to immediately reveal the cause of death.
Three days later, the driver of a car on Highway 93 ran into a sow grizzly and two of her cubs about three miles south of Ronan. The bear family apparently came out of the barrow pit and tried to cross the highway together about 11 p.m. All three bears died at the scene. The driver and one passenger were injured and the car had to be towed away.