Tag Archives: Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem

Our NCDE grizzlies

Grizzly Bear - courtesy NPS
Grizzly Bear – courtesy NPS

Debo Powers, NFPA President, passed along the following information . . .

The Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) grizzly bear population is “The Heart of the Grizzly Nation.” This population is crucial to recovery in the rest of the lower 48 populations. As the federal government moves toward delisting these magnificent creatures, we need to become informed.

Dr. David Mattson is building a website intended to bring together much of the information that is known about grizzlies, including demography, diet and habitat, and conservation: https://www.mostlynaturalgrizzlies.org.

There will be a meeting of the NCDE Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee in Missoula on November 29 from 9:00am to 4:00pm. There will be updates from various agencies working on the grizzly bear recovery plan and a time for public comment at the end of the meeting.

Grizzly delisting not a simple decision

Grizzly bear recovery zones - US Fish and Wildlife Service
Grizzly bear recovery zones – US Fish and Wildlife Service

Here’s a good overview article from the Daily Inter Lake discussing the complexity of the upcoming decision on delisting grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem . . .

For four years, research ecologist Tabitha Graves has studied grizzly bears at the U.S. Geological Survey’s NOROCK West Glacier Field Station.

The hulking ursines bring more than tourists to Northwest Montana. “They have a pretty big role in this ecosystem,” she told the Daily Inter Lake. “We don’t often think about these kinds of details, but they disperse a lot of seeds, [and] they dig a lot,” helping circulate nutrients through the forest floor.

Understanding their benefits requires estimating the number of bears in the region – no easy task in a 16,000-square-mile “demographic monitoring area.” Graves and her colleagues add barbed wire to the tree trunks that bears rub along, then have the hair they collect DNA-sequenced, gaining a sense of which individual bears frequent which spots.

Read more . . .

Hopes rise for contact between Yellowstone grizzlies and northern cousins

Grizzly bear sow with three cubs - NPS photo
Grizzly bear sow with three cubs – NPS photo

As grizzlies spread out into their historic habitat, hopes rise that the isolated Yellowstone population will make contact with the more extensive northern population.

Kudos to the NF News for spotting this one . . .

To make the plains and mountains safe for the great herds of cattle that were brought to the West at the end of the 19th century, grizzly bears were routinely shot as predators by bounty hunters and ranchers.

Ever since, the bears in Yellowstone National Park, protected from hunting, have been cut off from the rest of their kind. Their closest kin prowl the mountains some 70 miles north, in and around Glacier National Park.

In a new paper, biologists say that as grizzly populations increase in both Glacier and Yellowstone, more adventurous males from both parks are journeying farther to stake out territory, winding up in places where they have not been seen in a century or more.

Read more . . .

US considers ending protections for Northwest Montana grizzlies

Grizzly Sow with Two Cubs - Wikipedia en:User Traveler100
Grizzly Sow with Two Cubs – – Wikipedia en:User Traveler100

Not really news to anyone who has been following the issue, but the feds intend to move forward next year on plans to delist grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem . . .

A federal wildlife official says the government will consider lifting threatened species protections for an estimated 1,000 grizzly bears in northwestern Montana.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife grizzly recovery coordinator Hilary Cooley told Montana lawmakers Thursday that a proposal to lift protections could come next year.

The bears in the Northern Continental Divide area that includes Glacier National Park make up the largest population of grizzlies in the Lower 48.

Read more . . .

Grizzly committee works on outreach as bear sightings spread

Grizzly Bear - courtesy NPS
Grizzly Bear – courtesy NPS

As the grizzly bear population rises, the bears spread into more of their historic range . . .

A probable grizzly bear sighting just over the edge of the Missoula Valley highlights the theme of this week’s Interagency Grizzly Committee meeting in Choteau: People get ready.

“We’ve done such a good job with the recovery, the public needs to understand what’s happening and how they can be safe in where they live,” IGBC spokesman Gregg Losinski said on Friday. “There are challenges because we’re not doing recovery anymore — we’re doing management.”

Since getting federal protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1975, grizzly bears now number nearly 2,000 in the continental United States. Most of those are concentrated in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem around Yellowstone National Park (about 700 grizzlies) and the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem between Missoula and Glacier National Park (about 1,000 grizzlies).

Read more . . .

Grizzly research continues in the NCDE

Grizzly Bear - courtesy NPS
Grizzly Bear – courtesy NPS

The Hungry Horse News has pretty good coverage of last week’s meeting of Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem grizzly bear managers . . .

At the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem meeting last week, agencies gathered to provide updates on their fall projects of the predominantly bear-ish kind.

The NCDE is a subcommittee of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, which promotes grizzly bear population recovery across habitats and national borders.

U.S. Geological Survey scientist Tabitha Graves from the Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center talked about the bear population trend project she’s been working on.

Read more . . .

Also see:
Blackfeet protest grizzly hunting at bear manager meeting

First look at grizzly bear ‘family tree’ study

Grizzly bear sow with three cubs - NPS photo
Grizzly bear sow with three cubs – NPS photo

The first results from a Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem grizzly bear “family tree” study are encouraging . . .

Using genetic analysis U.S. Geological Survey Scientist Tabitha Graves and Nate Mikle recently completed a first look at the “family tree” of grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.

The 8-million plus acre area stretches from Glacier National Park south to Ovando. The pair looked at genetic data gathered from 1,115 bears in a 2004 study done by researcher Kate Kendall and again in 2009-2012 through hair follicle samples of bears.

The family tree, printed out on one sheet of paper, stretches 20 feet, Graves noted in an interview last week. The thrust of this initial study was to determine the genetic diversity of bears on the fringes of the ecosystem, namely in the southeast and southwest corners.

Read more . . .

Grizzly recovery coordinator to retire after 35 Years

Chris Servheen
Chris Servheen

Chris Servheen, whose name has appeared in quite a few grizzly bear stories here over the years, is retiring this month . . .

The nation’s first and only grizzly bear recovery coordinator is stepping down after 35 years, saying the threatened species has recovered enough for him to retire.

Chris Servheen of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is retiring at the end of April. Wayne Kasworm will become acting recovery coordinator.

Read more . . .

Grizzly mortality declines for 2015

Grizzly Sow with Two Cubs - Wikipedia en:User Traveler100
Grizzly Sow with Two Cubs – – Wikipedia en:User Traveler100

There were fewer grizzly bear deaths last year in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem . . .

On the heels of the federal government’s proposal to delist the grizzly bear population in the Yellowstone National Park area, this year’s annual report on Glacier National Park and the surrounding region shows the population continuing to hit its recovery targets.

Grizzlies in the lower 48 states were listed as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1975, after their historic range and population plummeted over decades of over-harvesting and habitat loss.

The Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem boasts the highest number of great bears among the five geographically distinct populations in the Northwest. It covers more than 5.7 million acres in Northwest Montana and includes Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex and surrounding lands.

Documented mortalities in the Northern Continental population, now estimated at 982 individuals, dropped substantially in 2015 from the two preceding years. That’s something of a return to normal, according to Cecily Costello, a research wildlife biologist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks who was one of the lead authors on the annual report.

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 . . .