The Daily Inter Lake has a nice profile of Gael Bissel, a well-regarded wildlife biologist who recently retired from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks . . .
Chances are you don’t know her name, but if you’ve ever hunted state lands along the Thompson River Corridor, reeled in a fish from the streams of the Swan River State Forest or simply savored the natural beauty of the Bull River Valley, you ought to thank Gael Bissell.
Originally from Wilmington, Delaware, Bissell officially retired earlier this month after a 31-year career as a wildlife biologist with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, having had a hand in nearly a quarter of a million acres of wildlife habitat conservation.
Working behind the scenes with myriad public and private partners, she helped secure a combination of land purchases, donations and easements throughout Northwest Montana worth approximately $120 million.
Well, here’s the end of an era. Rick Mace is retiring . . .
In 1976, University of Montana student Rick Mace walked into his adviser’s office to inquire about classes he needed for his bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology.
He left the office with a summer job researching Northwest Montana’s newly protected grizzly bears. That was the beginning of a nearly 40-year career for Mace as one of the region’s top grizzly experts.
Now, with the Crown of the Continent area home to a robust, growing grizzly population and removal of the bears’ Endangered Species Act listing in sight, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wildlife biologist is bidding adieu to a lifetime spent working to understand the great bear.
Personnel from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will be live-trapping and collaring a couple of grizzly bears in the North Fork area over the next few days. So, if you see the warning signs, stay clear of the sites. . .
Here’s what Rick Mace had to say . . .
The grizzly bear population monitoring team would like to capture and radio collar a couple grizzly bears in the NF Flathead River starting in the next few days. We would be working both on Forest Service and private lands. All of the Forest Service sites would be off of the existing open road system as we have done in the past. All sites will have approved signs and we will obviously avoid any active timber sales and trail heads. Most of our sites have been used now for many years without incident. We anticipate capture sites in Trail, Red Meadow, and Moose Creeks. Also we may work off the main North Fork Road near Mud (Garnet) Lake going towards the border. We would like to run the capture program for a maximum of about 10 days depending on success, starting later this week.
Well, now, the NFPA got some ink. The Flathead Beacon’s Tristan Scott did a good write-up on Rick Mace’s presentation at the July 27 NFPA annual meeting concerning grizzly bear research and management over the past several decades. John Frederick even gets a quote . . .
Biologists who have spent years counting grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem say the species is on the road to recovery. With the public comment period on a post-delisting bear management strategy having drawn to a close Aug. 1, Endangered Species Act protections could be removed as early as next year.
At the North Fork Preservation Association’s annual meeting last month, attendees heard a presentation from Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Rick Mace. The presentation gave a 30-year history of grizzly bear conservation in western Montana.
Mace traced the history of research and management from the 1970s to the present, and talked about the science of counting bears and population trends of bears in the NCDE.
On Saturday, July 27, the annual meeting of the North Fork Preservation Association will be held at the Sondreson Community Hall at Whale Creek. At 7:30 pm Rick Mace, a North Forker and bear biologist for Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, will present his program entitled “A 30 year history of grizzly bear conservation in Western Montana: How far have we come?”
The 7:30 pm program is preceded by a potluck at 5pm and election of officers at approximately 7 pm when people are finished eating.
The North Fork Preservation Association’s annual meeting will be held on, Saturday, July 27 at Sondreson Hall.
Events kick off with a potluck at 5:00 p.m. The NFPA will supply burgers and sausages. Bring anything else that might be tasty. (Note that the webmaster is fond of rhubarb pie. Just saying.)
The business meeting is at 7:00 p.m. — or a bit earlier if everyone is done eating.
The main program begins at 7:30 p.m. with a talk by Rick Mace, biologist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and a North Fork landowner. He will give a presentation titled “What We Are Learning About Grizzlies from Catching Them in the North and South Fork”.
An ongoing grizzly bear population trend study got off to a good start this year with three bears being captured and fitted with radio collars in the North Fork Flathead drainage.
But that’s just the start of trapping efforts that will carry on for the next few months throughout the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, which stretches from the mountains of southern Alberta to the southern end of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex.