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Entries in Yellowstone grizzlies (5)


Montana stays on sidelines of reviving grizzly hunts 

Dennis Bragg photo (BOISE)- While Montana stays on the sidelines, Idaho is now joining Wyoming with plans for possible grizzly bear hunts this fall.

All three states have been analyzing the options for using limited grizzly hunts adjacent to Yellowstone National Park, now that the federal government has removed threatened species protection for the big bears. State wildlife managers say the hunts would be used to control bear populations, just as is done with other game.

However, the de-listing has been challenged in federal court by conservation groups and tribes. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks leaders have already indicated they will likely not stage a hunt this year because of the pending litigation, and the complexities of taking just a handful of bears. 

Wyoming is considering a draft proposal allowing hunters to kill up to 24-bears. And yesterday, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to start collecting public comments on a proposed hunting season near Yellowstone. The plan could be finalized in May.


No grizzly hunting in Montana for 2018

Dennis Bragg photo(HELENA)- There will be no grizzly bear hunting in Montana, at least not this year. The Montana Wildlife Commission is accepting a recommendation from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks staff to not stage a hunt for the bears near Yellowstone, where the bears were removed from Endangered Species protection last year. 

There had been anticipation Montana may allow a limited hunt for grizzlies in the areas surrounding Yellowstone, where the grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem where taken out of "threatened species" status in a controversial move by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service last year. That decision would leave grizzly management, including possible hunts to limit bear populations, up to the states, including Idaho and Wyoming. 

However, yesterday in Helena, the Wildlife Commission was told there are some problems with Montana scheduling a grizzly hunt later this year. FWP staff note there's still pending litigation challenging the USFWS de-listing. Additionally, there are issues on how to limit the harvest to just a single sow grizzly in addition to half-a-dozen males. Montana could only launch a hunt if there was a single, "independent" sow grizzly available, and FWP staff say that possibility is "very limited."

Idaho is scheduled to discuss a grizzly hunt in March. The Wyoming Wildlife Commission has already directed staff to draw up plans for a hunt this year. 


Warm weather waking up grizzlies 

YNP photo(YELLOWSTONE NAT'L PARK)- The unusually warm weather might be hard for winter sports enthusiasts to bear. But it means some of the region's grizzlies are already starting to come out of hibernation.

Yellowstone National Park managers say they received their first confirmed report of a grizzly on Monday, when a bear was spotted scavenging on a bison carcass in the center of the park. That's several weeks earlier than normal.

That's prompting biologists to issue bear warnings for park visitors, telling hikers, skiers and snowshoers to be on the lookout for grizzlies. They advise backcountry travelers to travel in groups of three or more, make noise on the trail and carry bear spray. 

Biologists say bears look for food as soon as they emerge from their dens and feast on deer, elk and bison that have died during the winter storms. And they warn bears will frequently be aggressive about those food sources. 

Yellowstone regulations require park visitors to stay more than 1-hundred yards away from bears at all times. 

Conditions have been colder in the north, and there's been no word of confirmed grizzly sightings in Northwest Montana. Still, precautions are probably a good idea given the continued springlike temperatures. 


Two hurt during run-in with a bear in Yellowstone

(YELLOWSTONE NAT'L PARK)- Two people are nursing injuries after a run-in with a grizzly and her cub in Yellowstone National Park this week

YNP rangers say a group of four people were hiking on the Cygnet Lakes Trail outside Canyon Village when they encountered the young sow grizzly who appeared at very close range and charged the group. Two of the hikers immediately discharged their canisters of bear spray and the sow and cub left the area after an encounter which lasted about a minute.

Rangers say all four members of the group hiked out to the trailhead under their own power. One person was treated at the scene, while the second injured hiker was transported by ambulance to an area hospital with bite and claw wounds. 

Yellowstone bear biologists say the sow’s behavior is consistent with purely defensive actions taken after a surprise encounter with people. This was the first report of any bear-caused human injuries in Yellowstone this year.


Grizzly management group to discuss fatal bear attacks

YNP photo(MISSOULA)- This summer’s fatal bear maulings in Yellowstone will be one of the key topics for discussion when the federal committee that oversees grizzly management meets in Missoula.

The maulings this summer were the first time a bear has killed someone inside the park in a quarter century.

A 58-year old California man was killed in early July when he and his wife tried to run away from a sow grizzly on a trail in Canyon Village. A 59-year old Michigan man was killed in late August along the Mary Mountain Trail. The attacks, as well as numerous encounters between hunters and bears in Northwest Montana this fall, have renewed debate over the best way to educate people on how to react to grizzly encounters.

Next week grizzly bear recovery specialist Chris Servheen will be giving a summary on the two fatal attacks when the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee holds its winter meeting in Missoula. While the presentation is expected to focus on this summer’s fatal maulings, we’re not expecting to hear any discussion about the 2010 fatal mauling that happened outside the park. That case is under litigation by the woman who’s husband was killed when he stumbled on a bear that had been tranquilized by bear researchers. She’s filed a $5-million lawsuit against the federal government.

The IGBC will also be reviewing the latest grizzly bear recovery efforts, as well as the newest research on managing bears as “distinct population segments.” That DPS approach has been controversial with other species, such as wolves, because it focuses on managing wildlife on a smaller geographic basis, rather than over an entire region.