MTPR

Mike Bader

Map showing the area between estimated occupied grizzly bear range in the NCDE to the north and the GYE to the south.
Lisa Landenburger, USGS - Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team. Public domain. Source: Peck et al. 2017.

Don’t expect the federal government to propose removing grizzly bears in Northwest Montana from the endangered species list anytime soon, officials say.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator Hilary Cooley says it’s complicated trying to prove in court that the grizzly population is recovered.

Grizzly bear family. Stock photo.
iStock

Grizzly bears in and around Montana are moving faster than the people tasked with managing them. That’s the takeaway from the year-end update from the group of federal and state wildlife experts who met this week in Missoula.

About 20 members of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, an organization in charge of grizzly bear management and recovery, crowded around a conference table, discussing the six ecosystems designated as grizzly bear habitat south of Canada.

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.

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee says bear spray is one of the best ways to prevent or end a bear attack.
Courtesy Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee

Montana’s wildlife agency is being asked to consider requiring hunters to carry bear spray while hunting in Western Montana.

Missoula’s Mike Bader say too many Montana hunters don’t carry bear spray and he believes the time has come to make it mandatory.

Longtime grizzly advocate Mike Bader presents at a letter-writing meetup for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks' new grizzly rule.
Nick Mott / MTPR

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) says Monday’s federal ruling to put grizzlies in and around Yellowstone National Park back on the Endangered Species List will not affect the agency’s work on a new rule that will dictate how Montana will manage grizzlies in and around Glacier National Park if that population is removed from the Endangered Species List.

Grizzly bear at Swan Lake Flats in Yellowstone National Park.
Jim Peaco (PD)

Scientists and wildlife advocates meet Tuesday, 10/17 to discuss whether grizzly bears in northwest Montana are ready to lose Endangered Species Act protections.

Wildlife officials say they are, and want grizzlies in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem de-listed by 2020.

But Michael Jarnevic, says that’s way too soon:

Flathead National Forest to update forest plan, seeks public input
Nicky Ouellet

The forest in the Flathead is about to see some big changes – or not. It all depends on how proposed changes to the Flathead’s National Forest Plan shake out.