Tag Archives: Montana

Governor Bullock announces Grizzly Bear Advisory Council, calls for applicants

Sow grizzly bear spotted near Camas in northwestern Montana. - Montana FWPThis may be worth following up on. Here’s the official press release. (Also, the Missoulian has a good summary: Bullock to create citizen panel to discuss future management of grizzlies in Montana.) . . .


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

MONTANA – Governor Steve Bullock today announced that he will establish a Grizzly Bear Advisory Council to help initiate a statewide discussion on grizzly bear management, conservation and recovery. The Council will be selected through an application process that ends April 12th.

“The recovery of grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide and Greater Yellowstone ecosystems is a great conservation success. Still, official federal delisting has yet to come to fruition,” Bullock wrote in a memo to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Director Martha Williams.

“Legal uncertainty has created a void requiring our leadership,” Governor Bullock said. “As bears continue to expand in numbers and habitat, we must identify durable and inclusive strategies to address current issues and prepare for the future. This advisory council represents a key step toward Montana embracing the tremendous responsibility and opportunity of long-term Grizzly Bear recovery and management.

Montana is home, in whole or in part, to four grizzly bear recovery zones designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS): the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE); the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE); the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem; and the Bitterroot Ecosystem. While grizzly bear numbers have surpassed recovery objectives in the GYE and NCDE, they have yet to reach recovery levels in the Cabinet-Yaak and Bitterroot.

Grizzly bears in the lower 48 states are officially under the jurisdiction of the FWS, but much of the day-to-day management of bears in Montana is done by FWP in partnership and with oversight of the FWS. The FWS delisted the GYE grizzly bear population under the Endangered Species Act in 2017, but a federal court decision last fall relisted the population. This delayed the delisting process for the NCDE and resulted in an appeal of the GYE decision by the State of Montana and others.

Grizzly bear populations continue to expand, in some cases into areas they have not occupied for decades. Management challenges and conflicts have increased. FWP, along with partner agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services and the FWS, work together to respond to conflicts as they occur. However, the situation has become increasingly complex as bears move into areas of Montana outside of existing recovery zones, such as the Big Hole Valley, Little Belt Mountains, and the plains east of the Rocky Mountain Front.

Developing strategies to ensure a timely and appropriate response to these conflicts and addressing the needs of communities and landowners most impacted in these areas are key priorities identified for the advisory council’s deliberations.

“We’re excited to work with this advisory council, and we see this as a great opportunity to find a way forward that reflects the values and needs of Montana as it relates to grizzly bear management,” FWP Director Williams said. “A council that is inclusive in its composition will allow for the balanced discussion we need to have.”

The Grizzly Bear Advisory Council will be tasked with considering broad strategic objectives, such as:

  • Maintaining and enhancing human safety;
  • Ensuring a healthy and sustainable grizzly bear population;
  • Improving timely and effective response to conflicts involving grizzly bears;
  • Engaging all partners in grizzly-related outreach and conflict prevention; and
  • Improving intergovernmental, interagency, and tribal coordination.

The Council will focus on providing recommendations to the Governor’s Office, FWP, and the Fish & Wildlife Commission that are clear and actionable on how to move forward with grizzly bear management, conservation and recovery. It will consider several pressing issues including bear distribution, connectivity between ecosystems, conflict prevention, response protocols, outreach and education, and the role of hunting and necessary resources for long-term population sustainability.

Governor Bullock is looking for a broad cross-section of interests to serve on the Council, including livestock producers, wildlife enthusiasts, conservation groups, hunters, community leaders, Tribal Nation representatives and outdoor industry professionals.

Council application information can be found online at http://fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/species/grizzlyBear/default.html.

Poll: Montanans agree conservation is important for state

From Public News Service . . .

A large majority of Montanans consider themselves outdoor fanatics and believe the state’s natural resources should be protected, according to the ninth annual Conservation in the West Poll from Colorado College.

Eighty percent of respondents in Montana say they are outdoor enthusiasts – the highest number among the eight western states polled.

Montanans also appear to reject the Interior Department’s energy dominance agenda, with 60 percent preferring to protect clean air, water and wildlife habitats, compared to 30 percent who want to pursue more domestic energy sources.

Read more . . .

Gianforte wants to dump some wilderness study areas

Kent Peak in the Sapphire Wilderness Study Area - photo by Sally Carlson
Kent Peak in the Sapphire Wilderness Study Area – photo by Sally Carlson

Congressman Gianforte is trailing along with Senator Daines in proposing to eliminate quite a few Montana wilderness study areas . . .

Montana U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte has drafted two bills proposing to release almost 690,000 acres (279,000 hectares) of wilderness study areas in Montana.

One of Gianforte’s bills echoes Montana Sen. Steve Daines’ bill introduced in the Senate late last year. It proposes to release 449,500 acres (182,000 hectares) of wilderness study areas all on national forest lands.

The Billings Gazette reports that Gianforte also authored a separate act to release an additional 240,000 acres (97,000 hectares) of Bureau of Land Management wilderness.

Read more . . .

Rob Breeding: Feeding elk was never a good idea

Deer with Chronic Wasting Disease - Wyoming Game and Fish Dept
Deer with Chronic Wasting Disease – Wyoming Game and Fish Dept

Here’s a good, balanced discussion of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) among Montana’s deer and elk population and the influence of Wyoming’s elk feedlots . . .

Last week the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission asked Wyoming to stop feeding elk during the winter on the feeding grounds in the northwest part of that state. There are more than 20 Wyoming feeding grounds, some at the National Elk Refuge near Jackson, the rest in counties south of the refuge.

The commission’s letter was sparked by the discovery this fall of Chronic Wasting Disease in Montana deer just north of the Wyoming border in hunt units south of Bridger. The disease has infected both mule and white-tailed deer. CWD has since been detected in a mule deer buck killed just south of the Canadian border north of Chester. Since CWD is present in Canadian provinces north of us — Alberta and Saskatchewan — it’s probable the disease has been migrating into Montana across both borders, as well as from the east, where CWD was previously confirmed in the Dakotas.

As far as CWD goes, the commission’s letter probably arrives too late. The disease is in Montana, maybe it’s been here for some time, and evidence from other states suggests eradication is unlikely. The feeding grounds are, or will become, CWD hot spots, but eliminating them now won’t do much to slow the inevitable spread of the disease across Montana.

Read more . . .

Montana asks Wyoming to stop feeding elk

 

Elk with Chronic Wasting Disease - Wyoming Game and Fish Dept
Elk with Chronic Wasting Disease – Wyoming Game and Fish Dept

As mentioned here a couple of days ago, Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD – think of it as mad cow for the deer family) is starting to show up in Montana. A good argument can be made that Wyoming’s elk feedlots aid the spread of this disease . . .

Montana wildlife officials are asking their Wyoming counterparts to stop feeding elk after chronic wasting disease has appeared in the state.

Jackson Hole News and Guide reports the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission sent a letter last week to the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, saying their elk feeding practices could accelerate the spread of the fatal, contagious disease.

The Montana letter says officials respect how Wyoming handles its affairs, but management of the disease in Montana is affected by what happens in the neighboring state.

Read more . . .

Chronic Wasting Disease strikes Montana

Chronic Wasting DIsease (CWD) - illustration of effects on elk
Chronic Wasting DIsease (CWD) – illustration of effects on elk

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a disease affecting (so far) deer, elk and moose, has spread from Wyoming to Montana. This is a Very Bad Thing.

If you are new to this issue (or even if you aren’t), here are two articles to get you started. The first is an excellent overview by the Flathead Beacon’s Rob Breeding. The second is a more lengthy, detailed examination of the situation by Todd Wilkinson posted to the Mountain Journal (kudos to Debo Powers for spotting this one).

CWD Creeps into Montana
Chronic Wasting Disease infects members of the deer family, including elk and moose

Chronic Wasting Disease Strikes Montana And Continues Its March On Yellowstone
As Wyoming Continues To Deny The Threat Posed By Feedgrounds, Critics Say Federal And State Agencies Demonstrate Epic Dysfunction For Their Lack Of A Coordinated Plan

Montana signs forest management deal with feds

Montana and the federal government signed the paperwork to establish a formal federal-state logging and restoration partnership . . .

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock signed an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service on Monday for the state to play a bigger role in forest management on federal lands, which officials say will speed up backlogged logging projects.

Forest management and the declining timber industry have emerged as major issues in this year’s governor’s race, with Weyerhaeuser announcing last month that it would close a Columbia Falls lumber and plywood mill. The closure will put about 100 people out of work in addition to 100 administrative jobs that are being eliminated or moved with Weyerhaeuser’s purchase of Plum Creek Timber.

With the Chessman Reservoir as a backdrop, Bullock, Forest Service Regional Forester Leanne Marten and Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Director John Tubbs signed the Good Neighbor Authority agreement, which was authorized under the 2014 federal Farm Bill.

Read more . . .

Poll: Growing number of Montanans believe public lands help jobs

It seems an increasing number of folks in Montana favor public lands . . .

Montanans across the political spectrum think federal public lands benefit the state’s economy and quality of life, according to a new poll released by the University of Montana.

“We found that support for national parks and conservation is about as popular and bipartisan an issue as you can find these days,” UM geography professor Rick Graetz said Wednesday. “There’s agreement in the state, on all sectors of politics.”

The poll of 500 registered voters throughout Montana took place on May 7, 9 and 11 by wireless and landline telephone interviews. It used the bipartisan team of Republican pollster Lori Weigel and Democratic pollster Dave Metz, who have cooperated on numerous other opinion surveys in the Rocky Mountain West. The poll had a margin of error of 4.38 percent.

Read more . . .

Researchers plan wolverine study across four western states

Wolverine in snow - Steve Kroschel
Wolverine in snow – Steve Kroschel

A wide-ranging wolverine study starts up next winter . . .

Researchers are working on a plan to study wolverines in four Rocky Mountain states to see if the animals that look like small bears with big claws can be reintroduced to some regions to boost their numbers and see how they might travel between mountain ranges.

Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Washington state are working together because there are so few wolverines and they are spread across a wide area, a researcher with Montana’s wildlife agency said.

“It doesn’t occur that often that four states start to think about managing a species together,” said Bob Inman, carnivore and fur bearer coordinator for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Read more . . .

Also read: First verified North Dakota wolverine since 1870 may have come from Montana (Missoulian)

Wolverine sighted near Havre

Woverine sighted by Dave Chinadle near Havre, Montana
Woverine sighted by Dave Chinadle near Havre, Montana

It seems wolverines can do some serious cross-country traveling when they want to . . .

It’s rare to see a wolverine in Montana, even in the reclusive animal’s remote and mountainous strongholds.

So the tenacious carnivore certainly wasn’t what Havre-area farmer Dave Chinadle expected to see in the middle of a stubble field last week.

Read more . . .