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Trigger Warning-Grizzly Safe Space?

A recent Powell Tribune article attempts to examine the reason that grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are ranging further afield from their “core area” or DMA (demographic monitoring area). Last year a sow and cubs was discovered just east of Powell, Wyoming in a farmer’s field, that’s a long way (100+ miles as the crow flies) from Old Faithful but why? Are these bears seeking asylum from an overpopulated GYE or, and this is where the article examines a little different topic, are these refugee grizzlies out of food and expanding their range to fill bellies? 


The answer to this question may lie in the counting method employed by the Wyoming Game and Fish. The Chao 2 method is a notoriously conservative scientific method for establishing game populations and due to its conservative nature, the method garners scrutiny from folks who claim there are a lot more than 700 grizzlies in the GYE, especially within the DMA. Therefore, this conservative population estimate of 700 bruins seems to be knocked askew when compared with the rising number of both grizzly bear fatalities and grizzly bear/human/livestock/automobile incidents. 


Ask anyone who spends a lot of time tramping around in the GYE and they can attest that the 700 bear population estimate seems a tad off. Therefore a push for the implementation of “best science” methods to gain a more accurate picture of the grizzly bear population in and around the DMA is gaining steam and will ultimately be decided upon by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee


However, the question remains… why are the bears leaving seemingly suitable habitat and venturing into zones heavily occupied by humans? Are there simply too many bears in the GYE and therefore too much competition for suffering food stuffs? Are sows with cubs seeking safe spaces away from aggressive boars? Are the bears simply doing what bears do and in a take on the old children’s song, “going over the mountain to see what they can see!”? 


I’m not a biologist but I don’t think this question takes a PhD to cipher either. Bears are no different than any other animal in that when a habitat reaches its maximum carrying capacity competition for food becomes fierce and displacement is bound to happen. I do think we need a better (read more accurate) understanding of just how many grizzlies are roaming the GYE so we can scientifically prove that the population is recovered, delisting can happen and sound plans for state level management via hunting, such as the one Wyoming already has in place, can be implemented. We need to manage these bears via the North American model of wildlife conservation not the California/British Columbia model of feelings based, ballot driven gerrymandering in which the real losers are the bears. If a more accurate counting method can make that happen then I say do it! 


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  1. Daniel Harmon

    There are now Grizzlies in the pryor mtn range in MT and have been seen on the west side of yellowtail canyon, we have enough in MT for sure.

  2. I live in Kalispell Mt ,everywhere you hike or fish you have to be bear aware.I hope that the the grizzly expand their range back to the California range..Maybe then they would allow us to manage their population.

  3. James Russell

    My family lives 80 miles from the Rocky Mountain front in MT. I can longer allow my kids to fish the river, golf on the course, or bike the areas I grew up exploring because of the dozens of grizzly bears that have be pushed out of mountains due to ever increasing population!

    Sad that a state know for wildlife and wild places isn’t allowed to manage those wildlife, but are handcuffed by liberal judges that are influenced by groups that have no concept of the actual happenings!

  4. I think privatized relocation program of a few bears to California is in order. I mean how hard would it be to convert a horse trailer to a bear trap?

  5. What about the impact of wolves on prey species? Even if the bear population didn’t increase, if the wolves decimate the food sources the effect would be the same, wouldn’t it?

  6. Throw a cub over Nancy Pelosi’s fence!

  7. Michael Sherrard

    I live in Shelby MT, I am a fifth generation Montanan. We have Grizzlies migrating from the Rocky Mountains on the Marias and Missouri Rivers, as far as Havre, MT. That is one hundred eighty five miles east of the Rocky Mountains. The reason for this migration is over population sprawl. Dupuyer, MT has the largest Grizzly corridor in the lower 48 states. Young sub adult grizzlies are rapidly expanding to establish new ranges. We need to delist Grizzlies, to responsibly remove problem bears. Not all bears are a problem, but the ones who are placing paws on windows need to be removed from the population. Hunting of grizzlies has progressed from unlimited to limited permits to our now present ban on all grizzly bears. As a child I remember grizzlies avoiding human contact because of fear of firearms. When someone saw a bear they fired to frighten the bear. Now firearms are the dinner bell, actually attracting grizzlies. Archers are trained to wait 30 to 60 minutes to track arrowed animals. With a the ability to detect blood at minimum of 5 miles away and move at 15 miles an hour, bears have the ability to claim arrowed animals. We need all states to work together to resolve this problem. Establishing grizzly hunting is a must not a fist pounding, chest swelling cry for self-indulgence, but rather a well thought out strategy to encompass nation wide nonhunters to understand the value of regulating grizzly growth. Michael Sherrard

  8. I live in Valier Montana. Only about 25 miles southwest of Shelby on Lake Francis. My wife’s grandfather, a 92 year old native. Says that in all his years living here. He has never heard of a grizzly this far off of the Front. Now as time passes, they are venturing out to places that they haven’t been since Lewis and Clark.
    We haven’t had the problems that we have until the Fish and Game shoved the wolves down our throats in 2001. With the pressure from the wolves . Grizzlies had to go somewhere. Recently I visited our traditional elk camp that hasn’t been used in a few years. Only to find the place covered in wolf and bear tracks. Never came across any elk sign.
    The wolf is a major player in the mess with grizzlies. Sure, some animals use each other for a meal now and then. But the bears want their space.
    Now I’m only 46. But all my years hunting the Rocky Mountain Front . I had never came across a grizzly. But in the last 15 years it’s a common occurrence. The bear was listed as endangered for good reason. There was none left. But delisting can’t happen because of emotions. “Big, bad hunter wants to prove he’s a man”! That not it . We want the species to thrive like all the other animals in the forest. But that also means that they need to be managed just like every other animal in the forest.
    -J. Holm

  9. Maybe that’s the plan. Make the west so unsafe and uncomfortable to live in that we all give up an move to big cities where we are easier to control. When the big game is gone, a lot of hunters will quit or be unable to develop an interest with the next generation. When hunting fades it will be much easier to take away our guns. The answer to the problem is so obvious that there just must be a deeper motive. Socialism! We used to call it communism but that sounds so negative. Fact is that socialism always requires government force to sustain itself. Sorry to get political.

  10. They will continue to expand, the prime habit is not in the mountains, the mountains are the junk that nobody wanted to claim! Relocation to states like Colorado, California, Washington and Oregon would be the most sensible way to make sure that the excess bears were distributed to large national forest areas. If a few breeding pairs could be released in Rocky Mountain National Park it would be a great draw for tourism just as It has been in the greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. I completely disagree with state departments funded by outdoorsmans dollars wasting any more funds removing animals that are considered problems to the public when so many areas could use a few pairs of grizzly bears to make the outdoor activities invigorating for all.

  11. I believe these Bears have more right than we do to be here!! All you people making statements above in earlier comments need to stop the complaining and learn to live with them!! I’m assuming you call yourselves hunters / conservationists, so far from what I’ve read all you can be called as pathetic!! Concerned citizen for the Bears sincerely Jason!

  12. Michael Sherrard

    Hello, It is very interesting to hear different thoughts, from all sides. My Grand father homesteaded in the very early days just straight south of Galata MT. The great fire in the early nineteenth century that covered Washington, Idaho and Montanan forced animals from the Rocky Mountain Front to the plains, they did not hibernate but were forced to live off of the domestic stock and sleep in loose hay stacks. The present agriculture community not only supplies the cheapest, abundant, nutritious, chemical free food produced in the world, they are happy to farm and ranch. They also support 80 % of wildlife free of charge 365 days 24-7 on their property that they pay taxes. I do believe that farmers and rancher should not bear the brunt to feed domestic stock or grain to continue the process of rogue grizzlies. For those of you who have never face drought, floods, hail, damaging winds, tornados, grass hoppers, cut worms, army worms or any other pestilence mother nature has and try to make a living from this hard land, keep your Monday morning quarter back opinion to your self. Those who are living on taxpayer dollars how would you like it if your whole income was gone in 60 minutes. I have watched this happen, one hail storm, two years of blood sweat and tears gone. That is just the financial lose, watching the miracle of seeds sprouting from the ground you prepared, to waving fields of golden grain. Hearing the rustle of ripened stalks against your levies in preparation for harvest is very soul comforting and very gratifying. They as well hunters, anglers are true conservationist. Hunters pay their own way with fees and also Pittman Robertson Tax. This tax in 1937 was put in place by hunters to support the principle that wild game belongs to and as is a responsibility for ALL to see the species survive. Some expressing views such as bears were here first. Yes that was 200 years ago, I would welcome you back 200 ago. I would welcome your billioniars to take their tax saving and begin to buy private property at the going rate (no cheap o deductions like bone spur, humpty trumpy), when it is all bought, you will donate this property to all citizens of the United States. Then you will pay to remove all roads, airports go first, remove all dams, structures that stop stream flows and then put up signs for all who wish to enter Montana that they either walk, use dogs or only horses, no wagons. No electrical, all wind farms must go. Remove the railways. This will soothe the human, beating a drum demanding we must worship the golden grizzly bear. Walk ten miles in another persons shoes before you begin condemnation on other people, is a very good idea. Many people have made a good living producing information that is not complete. I attended a meeting in Great Falls many years ago about the pine cone eradication in Yellow Stone Park. I asked how the bears were doing around Dupuyer. The response was very good, but they did not know where the 2 year-olds were going. (I knew that they were moving East.) They would not acknowledge that bears were setting up house keeping East of I-15. I asked were there any Yellow Stone pine cones in the Dupuyer area. The speaker said no. I then asked “Do you suppose that the Yellow Stone Grizzlies will be as smart as the Dupuyer Grizzlies and find another source for food. That was the ended the questions. We need to establish guide lines for a well conceived multiple state hunting dynamic that will begin the process of trimming down the over population of problem grizzly bears. Michael Sherrard.

  13. John H. Hoak

    As with much else now within the domain of an over-reaching and ever-growing federal government, wildlife management must be returned to the exclusive purview of the states. To accomplish this, and thereby also limit federal courts’ power in this matter, it will be necessary to amend or abolish the ESA. Western Senators & Reps will have to take the lead, though it’s difficult to be optimistic about legislation from a Congress that cannot even cooperate to stop the rush of millions of unknown aliens across our borders.

    John Hoak
    Big Horn, WY

  14. The elected officials must be pandering to the ever growing chorus of greenies moving into the mountain states. Really difficult to comprehend the lack of action we have seen on this growing issue.

  15. Jeff Ramirez

    If we are going to truly follow our conservation model that was established in this country then we need to manage all predators as we do ungulates and get politics and emotions out of it. Our conservation and wildlife managers need to do a better job educating the public who are ignorant about predators and the role we play in their management.

  16. wayne perkins

    a Mississippi guy that goes to the mountains often . hunted the area adjacent to Yellowstone many times and see lots of griz bears . . Must have a season to control numbers as they are out of control. way over 700 for sure.. wayne perkins

  17. Great thoughts Jeff R….. one huge problem….our conservation and wildlife managers are at the top of the greenie tree-hugger pyramid….the public statements I most often hear from these folks defies all logic….unfortunately they are a major part of the problem and have become a key cog in the environmental extremism movement. Don’t count on them educating anyone without their whacko agenda influencing the discussion.

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