MTPR

Cecily Costello

Sheep.
iStock

U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt canceled a planned visit to Montana this week. Bernhardt had planned to meet with Montana ranchers and farmers about grizzly bear conflicts along the Rocky Mountain Front as part of his visit.

Known and probable documented mortalities of grizzly bears in the NCDE from 2004 to 2018.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

2018 has been the deadliest year since scientists started keeping track for grizzlies in Northwest Montana.

"We did have a record high number of mortalities," says Cecily Costello, a grizzly bear research biologist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and she’s talking about the huge swath of land in and around Glacier National Park, known as the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE). About a thousand bears live there.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Bear Biologist Cecily Costello at the Wednesday meeting
Nick Mott

Editor’s Note: After this story aired, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks contacted us about how we characterized the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem’s grizzly bear conservation strategy. See the * below for clarification.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is going ahead with business as usual on a rule related to removing grizzly bears in and around Glacier National Park from the endangered species list.

Grizzly bear track.
Jim Peaco-NPS (PD)

The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission has set official goals for the number of grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem if the animal is taken off the endangered species list, as is expected later this year.

A grizzly bear visiting a wire hair snag station near Glacier National Park.
Glacier National Park (PD)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced yesterday it will propose to remove federal endangered species protections for grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem this September.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Biologist Dr. Cecily Costello speaks during the IGBC meeting in Missoula, MT, December 12, 2017.
Josh Burnham

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee is meeting in Missoula Tuesday and Wednesday to review and revise their management and research goals for the next 5 years.

A big challenge for wildlife managers trying to encourage bear movement between populations near the Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide Ecosystems (NCDE), is the higher proportion of private land between the parks, compared to inside grizzlies’ core habitat.

A grizzly bear visiting a wire hair snag station near Glacier National Park.
Glacier National Park (PD)

As the federal government prepares to remove Endangered Species Act protections for grizzly bears in the area around Glacier National Park, bear management experts say public acceptance of grizzlies will be crucial to their long term survival.

Chris Servheen saw what a difference that can make in his 35 year career as the grizzly bear recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A grizzly bear visiting a wire hair snag station near Glacier National Park.
Glacier National Park (PD)

The grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) have spoken, and they are telling us that everything we’re doing to recover their population has worked. That was the message from state and federal bear experts at the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee Winter Meeting today in Missoula.

Grizzly bear.
(PD)

Researchers who gathered in Kalispell today said there now appear to be enough grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem to move toward taking that population off of the endangered species list.