State and Federal wildlife managers are offering a first-of-its-kind summit on grizzly bear education in Helena this week.
Sara Sylte is a grizzly education coordinator for state and federal agencies. She says it can be hard for people to know where to get education on protecting their farm or livestock from bears or how to safely recreate in bear country.
"They don’t know where to find what they would consider trustful or reliable information. So one, we’re just compiling all that in one place. Then we’re going to look at what’s being used and effective, and what’s not effective, and can we measure effectiveness."
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is bringing together groups across the state involved in human-bear conflict education to make sure they’re using consistent messages. The summit in Helena will also compile a catalogue of education offerings and other resources, ranging from grants for electric fencing to bear spray demonstrations.
FWP plans to also identify groups that agencies say they’re not educating enough, such as river recreationists and mountain bikers. FWP hopes to compile a report for the governor’s grizzly bear advisory council as well, so it can factor the information into its future recommendations for the governor.
Rocky Mountain Front rancher Trina Bradley sits on the council and put on her own education event with the Blackfeet Nation Stock Growers Association earlier this month to address education shortfalls in that community.
"A lot of ranchers are frustrated because we have to deal with these bears and have to absorb the losses from having them eating our livestock and breaking into things and whatever," Bradly says.
Bradley says a lot of ranchers just don’t know there are programs aimed at helping them. That’s something FWP hopes it education summit will help resolve.
The summit runs Tuesday evening through Thursday morning in Helena.