NFPA is excited to announce that we are the recipient of a Vital Ground Partner Grant for our Polebridge Bear Smart program. These funds will help us expand our seasonal employee training, aid in our efforts to help short term rentals owners educate their guests about living and recreating safely in bear country and initiate a rapid response program in connection with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to help property owners discourage bears from becoming habituated. We are honored and delighted to be partnering with Vital Ground in this effort.
Polebridge Bear Smart (PBBS) is looking forward to a busy summer with continuation of existing projects and the addition of exciting new ones.
The late spring/early summer season is in full swing with the first of two PBBS trainings for seasonal employees of Polebridge businesses completed on May 24th. This year the program was advanced by partnering with the Glacier Institute as well as Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) both of whom were on hand to help with training, providing inert bear spray for practice and to answer the insightful questions posed by participants.
We are particularly excited about an Initial Response Program we have developed in collaboration with Justine Vallieres, bear biologist with Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks. PBBS volunteers recently completed training and are standing by ready to respond to North Fork land owners who have a bear incident or a bear frequenting their property. The intent is to quickly provide assistance under the guidance of the bear biologists who are often overwhelmed with incidents during the busy summer months. We are able to loan game cameras and scare devices on the short term to identify individual bears and deter them. In doing so we hope to protect the bears from habituation as well as mitigate property damage, keeping both bears and humans safer. PLEASE reach out if you have an issue with a bear frequenting your property and please let FWP know if a bear causes damage or does not respond to hazing. This information helps them determine which individual bears might be involved. Recent research has shown that early efforts at deterring bears is most effective; removing bears to an alternative location often does not resolve the issue as bears tend to migrate back to their previous habitat.
Additionally, PBBS will be expanding its programs this year to include outreach to short term rental property owners with tools to help renters be responsible and safe in bear country. If you own a short term rental, expect an email contact regarding this program.
During the summer of 2022, with support from a Sierra Club grant and private donations, we launched a bear canister program for North Fork residents. The 96 gallon Kodiak bear resistant canisters were made available at a reduced cost for purchase or rent. This program will continue in 2023; please see accompanying information if you wish to purchase or rent a canister.
Feel free to contact Suzanne Hildner with any comments questions or suggestions. Here’s looking forward to a fun filled and safe summer for both humans and bears.
Suzanne Hildner, PBBS Chair