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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Ever read this?

www.homesteadpublishing.com

Or perhaps you read the excerpts in Sports Illustrated about the events of Aug. 13, 1967 at Glacier National Park.

Here are a few details.

http://helenair.com/lifestyles/documentary-revisits-glacier-park-s-first-fatal-bear-attacks/article_b0cc3914-5f13-11df-881e-001cc4c03286.html

Two grizzly bears relocated to Cabinet Mountains

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Two female grizzly bears have been transplanted from the Whitefish Range to the Spar Lake area of the Cabinet Mountains as part of an ongoing effort to boost the struggling Cabinet-Yaak grizzly bear population.

The 2-year-old siblings were captured in the Deadhorse Creek drainage on the Flathead National Forest and moved Friday to the West Cabinets and a drainage with a hiking trail to Spar Lake near the Montana-Idaho border.

The bears have no history of conflict with people and have never been captured before, wildlife officials told the Daily Interlake.

Those factors plus their young age are part of the criteria for the augmentation program, a cooperative effort between Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The state agency captures the bears while the federal agency monitors them after their release. The bears are fitted with Global Positioning System tracking collars to allow for their movements to be monitored.

Friday’s release marks the 12th and 13th grizzly bears to released into the Cabinets since 2005.

In the early 1990s, three grizzly bears were moved into the Cabinets. Most of the bears that have been moved have been females.

Last year, a study that made use of genetic analysis of bear hair samples produced a population estimate of 42 bears for the Cabinet-Yaak region.

Wayne Kasworm, a biologist with the Fish and Wildlife Service based in Libby, said that estimate means that there may have been fewer than 15 grizzly bears prior to 1990, and that indicates that the grizzly population might have vanished without the augmentation efforts.

As of last year, it was still unknown if any of the bears that have been moved since 2005 have reproduced. That’s partly because the young bears were moved well before they reached reproductive age of 5 or 6 years old, and they drop their tracking collars within a couple of years.

Grizzly bear at home on the range

WILDLIFE WATCHING — No cowboys were trying to rope this stray and put their own brand on it Tuesday, for good reason.

Western Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson had been sitting in a blind near a fox den before he headed toward  home near Lincoln.  

“As I drove along a back prairie road, I noticed a strange dark-colored cow being chased by the other cows. As I got closer I realized….. that’s no cow….  Weird to see grizzlies on the prairie.”

He apologized for the quality of the image but said he had to document the sighting.

Head 'em up!   Move 'em out!

Researchers set grizzly bear snares near Priest Lake

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Researchers are setting snares in the Hughes Meadows area north of Priest Lake this month in an ongoing effort to capture grizzly bears and fit them with radio collars.

As of Tuesday, the two-man crew working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had caught one bear – a black bear. The 5-year-old male, weighing 134 pounds, was ear-tagged and released, said Wayne Wakkinen, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional wildlife manager.

Radio collars have been helping wildlife biologists monitor North Idaho grizzly bears, which are protected under the Endangered Species Act, since the first grizzly was collared in the Selkirks in 1983, Wakkinen said.

More than 80 different grizzly bears have been captured.

“There have been some years when we didn't trap in Idaho but we've generally been trapping in either Idaho or the British Columbia portion of the Selkirk ecosystem since then,” he said.

This year, the first significant research trapping in Washington occurred in May. The federal crew set snares in the Molybdenite Mountain south of Sullivan Lake. No grizzly bears were captured.

“The crew places warning notices at all major access points and trailheads in the area,” Wakkinen said. “They place more signs closer to the actual snare site.”

Researchers also are trapping bears in the northeastern corner of Idaho near Copper Creek and Copper Lake in the Cabinet-Yaak grizzly bear recovery area, he said.

Wayne Kasworm, federal grizzly bear biologist who's supervising the collaring project, said his crews plan to be trapping high in the mountains in July and August.

“We currently have five female grizzly bears with collars in the Selkirks and we hope to collar four or five more,” he said.  

Snares are checked at least once a day, or twice a day in hot or cold and rainy weather, he said. Most of the traps have transmitters that signal if they’ve been triggered with a radio signal to the crew.

The snare sites are placed well off of trails to reduce the chance of an encounter with humans, Wakkinen said. 

Snare sites are baited, typically with road-killed deer.  “If a person smells something stinky the best bet is to not investigate,” he said, “but this advice holds true whether there is trapping going on or not.

“If there's something stinky there's a chance that a predator of some sort – black bear, cougar, grizzly bear – may be around to check it out.  Or you might be poking your nose into a recent kill site where a cougar has stashed its prey.

“Radio collars can yield a great amount of information such as survival rates, cause of mortality, reproductive output, cub survival and identification of seasonal ranges and dispersal,” he said. “These data in turn can be used to make informed land management decisions.”

Grizzly bear dies in fall in Glacier National Park

WILDLIFE WATCHING  — The death of a grizzly bear in Glacier National Park is a reminder to hikers and climbers that spring and summer trekking across steep snowfields can be hazardous.

 A member of the Glacier Park road crew found a male grizzly bear dead on Going-to-the-Sun Road on Thursday morning.

An initial investigation by the National Park Service indicated the bear, one of about 300 grizzlies in the park, probably fell onto the road from a steep snowbank.

A necropsy revealed the 190-pound bear suffered head injuries, broken ribs and other internal injuries consistent with a fall. Park officials say the terrain above where the bear fell includes a steep snowbank, some steep cliffs and a drop of approximately 12 feet.

Grizzlies isolated in Cabinet Mountains

THREATENED SPECIES — Our big bears  need lots of room to roam, something that's in short supply in our ever-more-developed world.

 Grizzly bears in NW Montana face trio of obstacles
An estimated 45 grizzly bears reside in the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem in the northwest corner of Montana. In most cases, their lineage traces back to a female grizzly from British Columbia that was trapped and released to the area in 1993 to boost the population. The effort continues as the species struggles with isolation from other populations, conflicts with humans and habitat.
—Missoula Independent

Alaska bear largest to be killed by hunters

HUNTING — The largest grizzly bear killed and recorded by a hunter has been entered into the Boone and Crockett record book.

The big bruin, taken in 2013 near Fairbanks, Alaska, by Larry Fitzgerald of Fairbanks scores 27-6/16. It missed the world's record mark by seven-sixteenths of an inch but landed a spot as the second-largest grizzly ever recorded. The reigning World's Record is a skull found in Alaska in 1976.

Bears are scored based on skull length and width measurements.

Conservationists use Boone and Crockett trophy data to gauge outstanding habitat, strong recruitment of game animals into older age classes, sustainable harvest objectives and other elements of sound wildlife management and fair-chase hunting.

“One would think that a relatively accessible area, with liberal bear hunting regulations to keep populations in line with available habitat and food, would be the last place to find one of the largest grizzly bears on record,” said Richard Hale, chairman of the Boone and Crockett Club's Records of North American Big Game committee.

Hale said the area is being managed for an overpopulation of grizzlies. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game liberalized hunting regulations to help balance and control bear predation on moose. Baiting is allowed although Fitzgerald stalked his trophy.

Hale added that Boone and Crockett Club recognizes found or picked-up trophies, like the reigning world's record grizzly which scores 27 13/16, alongside hunter-taken trophies because all are useful for documenting historic conservation successes.

Another sign of spring: Grizzlies emerging

WILDLIFE WATCHING — If you need more reassurance that spring has sprung, Yellowstone National Park officials have reported that grizzly bears are beginning to emerge from their dens.

First bears out of the hatch usually are males.  Females with cubs born in the den during winter usually are last out, giving the cubs more chance to develop.

Grizzly bears are emerging from hibernation in the Greater Yellowstone Area, so hikers, skiers and snowshoers are advised to stay in groups of three of more, make noise on the trail and carry bear spray.

The first confirmed reports of grizzly bear activity in the Park were reported on March 4. Guides and visitors observed and photographed a grizzly bear along the road in the Hayden Valley area. The first black bear of the year was observed on February 11 near the south end of the park.

Bears begin looking for food soon after they emerge from their dens. They are attracted to elk and bison that have died during the winter. Carcasses are an important enough food source that bears will sometimes react aggressively when surprised while feeding on them.

Updated bear safety information is available on the Yellowstone bear safety Web page.

While firearms are allowed in the park, the discharge of a firearm is a violation of park regulations. The park’s law enforcement rangers who carry firearms on duty rely on bear spray, rather than their weapons, as the most effective means to deal with a bear encounter.

Visitors are also reminded to keep food, garbage, barbecue grills and other attractants stored in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes. This helps keep bears from becoming conditioned to human foods, and helps keep park visitors and their property safe.

Gearing up for a hike in griz country? Read this first

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BACKPACKING — If you're thinking about packing a gun on your next hike into Yellowstone, Glacier Park or other areas of grizzly bear habitat, read this story first.

Then check out the video above on how to effectively use bear spray.

Trail Cam proves wildlife around when hikers aren’t

WILDLIFE WATCHING — In December, Parks Canada posted this time-lapse video from a trail camera in Waterton Lakes National Park spanning over a four-month period when the area was closed to hikers as a result of flood damage.

See how the animals took advantage of a human-free trail and used it for an easy travel route.

How many species do you count?  

Eagle’s comeback testament to Endangered Species Act

WILDLIFE WATCHING —  As wildlife lovers and their families flock to Lake Coeur d'Alene Eagle Watch activities to view congregating bald eagles in Wolf Lodge Bay this week, let's not forget that very few if any bald eagles would be gracing our Inland Northwest skies if it weren't for the foresight of the lawmakers who passed Endangered Species Act in 1973.

Bald eagles, grizzlies living reminders of federal law's success
President Richard Nixon signed the federal Endangered Species Act into law on Dec. 28, 1973, and in Montana, bald eagles and grizzly bears have rebounded because of the law's protections.

—Missoulian

Most bears hibernating, but not all of them

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A wolf trapper has answered the question on whether all of Montana's bears have snuggled in dens to hibernate through winter.

A steel leg-hold trap set for a wolf nabbed a 4-year-old male grizzly bear instead on a ranch west of Dupuyer on Tuesday, prompting Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to help the trapper tranquilized and release the bear.

  • The photo above indicates the glowing eyes in the spotlight beam were all the officers saw when they drove up in the dark to encounter the trapped grizzly.

If a bear has plenty of food available, it won't necessarily head into its den, even in mid-December, wildlife biologists said.

Read on for the story from the Great Falls Tribune.

Yellowstone grizzlies recovered, panel says

THREATENED SPECIES — A panel of wildlife officials says it’s time to lift Endangered Species Act protections for grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park.

An Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee spokesman says the panel’s members voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of ending the federal protections, the Associated Press reports.

The committee’s recommendation will be considered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency could propose a rule by mid-2014 to end protections.

Scientists say there are more than 700 grizzly bears in the Yellowstone region of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming following a decades-long recovery.

Revoking the animal’s threatened species status would open the door to limited hunting, but other conservation measures would stay in place.

Environmental groups worried about climate change say it’s too early to take the bears off the threatened list.

Study finds at least 42 grizzlies in Cabinet, Yaak

THREATENED SPECIES — A “hair of the bear” study has accounted for at least 42 grizzly bears in the Cabinet Mountains and Yaak River drainage regions of northwestern Montana, according to the Associated Press.

Research leader Kate Kendall reported her findings to the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee Tuesday, the Missoulian reported.

Researchers used about 800 scent-baited “hair corrals” where rings of barbed wire snagged hair as the animals stepped over or under it to investigate the scent. They also collected samples in about 1,200 places where bears naturally stop to scratch their backs, such as trees, posts and poles in a 3,750-square-mile area in the mountains above Eureka, Libby, Trout Creek, Yaak and Troy.

The samples, collected in 2012 and analyzed this year, identified 38 grizzlies by their DNA. Researchers also knew about four collared bears whose DNA didn’t appear in the samples.

“That’s the rock-solid minimum count we detected,” research leader Kate Kendall told the committee at its meeting in Missoula. Including visiting bears and bears that died during the study, the figure could be as high as 54, she said.

The number is important because the health of the grizzly population influences how much logging and mining can take place in the area.

Read on for more details from the AP.

Adventurer kills, eats faithful dog in 2-month survival epic

ADVENTURE — Here's a Canadian survival story with an unusual twist that has some animal lovers saying a desperate man made a heartless decision.  

But doctors treating Marco Lavoie after his rescue in the wilderness of northern Quebec say he may not have survived his four-month ordeal had he not killed and eaten his dog.

Some fascinating points to the story:

  • Lavoie, 44, was close to death when a rescue crew found him last week.
  • His canoe and vital supplies were destroyed by a bear at the start of a planned two-month trip in August.
  • Lavoie's German Shepherd may have saved Lavoei's life by chasing away the bear in the initial attack.
  • But three days later, facing the possibility of starvation Lavoie, killed his doting companion with a rock.
  • The first words Lavoie reported spoke to medical staff: 'I want to get a new dog.'

Lavoie had lost 90 pounds and was suffering from hypothermia when rescuers found him Wednesday. News reports from Monday indicated he was still in critical condition.

Could you kill your faithful canine companion if you thought it would be the difference between your life and death?

Bear awareness needed during big-game hunts

HUNTING — Bears are still out and active throughout the fall as hunters are out for deer and elk hunting — a potentially hazardous mix. 

Being bear aware is particularly important for hunters because stalking and harvesting game increases a person’s chance of bumping into bears, says Jamie Jonkel, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks bear management specialist.

“When travelling through dense brush or field dressing an animal, be extra aware and do what you can to warn wildlife of your presence,” Jonkel says.  “Always have bear spray close at hand.”

Jonkel says this has been an especially busy fall for grizzly bear activity, especially in Western Montana.

He offers these safety tips for hunting in bear country:

  • Always carry bear spray, have it within easy reach and know how to use it.
  • If you are going to be alone in bear country, let someone know your plans.
  • Watch for fresh bear sign.
  • After making a kill, get the carcass out of the area as quickly as possible.
  • When field dressing the carcass, keep your can of bear spray within easy reach.
  • Use special precautions if you must leave and return to a carcass, including   placing the carcass where you can observe it from a distance when you return.
  • Do not attempt to frighten away or haze a bear that is near or feeding on a carcass

Check the Deer, Elk and Antelope Hunting regulations available online and at FWP offices, or go to FWP’s Living with Wildlife web page for more information on hunting in bear country.

Wolf nips grizzly cub in butt, outruns sow’s wrath

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Here's another take on that spectacular wildlife watching opportunity posed in mid-September by the death of a bison 400 yards from a road in Yellowstone Park.

  • Five grizzlies and five gray wolves challenged each other for three days as they jockeyed for a place at the dinner table.

In the YouTube video above, Deby Dixon — who took a videography course at Spokane Falls Community College from S-R photographer Colin Mulvany — captured an instructive wildlife moment as a wolf nips a yearling grizzly cub in the butt.

Wildlife biologists say this is not uncommon. An Alaska biologist described the same practice to me as he was explaining wolf behavior.

Wolves learn and survive by observing, testing the waters and pushing the limits. Even among grizzlies, wolves are quick enough to get away with murder.

Trail cam photos capture grizzly bear hoedown

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Enjoy an intimate family moment with grizzly bears attracted to a scratching pole by some sort of powerful lure, a bruin's equivalent of ecstasy.  

The video starts slow and builds to a frenzy of rubbing. Fun.

According to PetaPixel.com, the trail cam photos were compled by Glenn Naylor, a Park Ranger, photography enthusiast and founding member of Bow Valley WildSmart who lives and works in Alberta. 

Compiled into a video called “What goes on when you are not there!” this camera wound up snapping a bonanza of photos.

Naylor says he doesn’t want the photos to give people the wrong impression about bears in general. Although the footage is cute and humorous, he says, “bears are not cuddly and friendly, they are wild animals that should be treated with caution and respect.”

See Naylor's YouTube channel.

Montana tests dogs for deterring wolves, bears from livestock

PREDATORS — Defending livestock from wolves and grizzly bears appears to be going to the dogs in Montana.

Study in Montana tests effectiveness of dogs to deter wolves, grizzlies
The National Wildlife Research Center, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services in Utah, has provided $80,000 to study the use of different breeds of dogs to keep wolves and grizzly bears away from livestock in Montana, including Kangals, a long-legged Turkish breed.

—Great Falls Tribune

Hot news: Keep bear spray where the sun don’t shine

CAMPING — “Bear spray left in car. Becomes bomb. Very impressive.”

That's a post  with the photo above from Hal Herring in Montana, who performed an unintentional science experiment by leaving a canister of bear spray in the back of his Subaru open to direct exposure to the hot summer sun.

Manufacturers say aerosol cans can burst above temps of 120-130 degrees.  But the main thing is that the canisters should always be covered — in a duffle, in an uncooled cooler, wraped in a towel under the seat of a car, but NEVER left to the full intensity of the summer sun in an enclosed vehicle.

“Check out the super shred on that bear spray holster…reckon there was a little force there?” Herring notes.

Webcam: See Katmai griz fishing for salmon

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Nevermind if you cannot go to Alaska — you can thrill at the sight of huge brown bears fishing for salmon at an iconic waterfall via a live feed from a Webcam in Katmai National Park.

Click here for the live view documenting the annual gathering of about 100 brown bears descending on a mile-long stretch of Brooks River to feast on the largest sockeye salmon run in the world.

If the link above does not work, paste this URL into your browser: 

http://explore.org/#!/live-cams/player/river-watch-brown-bear-salmon-cams

Groups offer reward for info on grizzly death near sheep station

Two conservation groups are offering $6,500 in rewards for information leading to the arrest and a conviction in the case of a grizzly bear killed near the Idaho-Montana border last fall. The bear's radio collar was found, cut off, in a stream; it had been fitted with the collar just 18 days earlier. The Western Watersheds Project and Cottonwood Environmental Law Center sued in federal court last month, contending that the U.S. Sheep Experimentation Station, near where the grizzly disappeared, has been involved with multiple grizzly deaths, though the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has ruled that it hasn't.

The station is operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and grazes about 2,000 sheep on 16,000 acres of land high in the mountains — an area biologists contend is also a prime travel corridor connecting Idaho and Yellowstone National Park for threatened grizzly bears. Click below for a full report from the Associated Press.

Fish & Game backs delisting grizzlies in Idaho

The Idaho Fish & Game Commission, at its meeting late last week in Coeur d’Alene, voted to support the removal of grizzly bears in Idaho from the federal list of threatened and endangered species, saying the bears have recovered sufficiently and now are starting to move into areas where there are increasing conflicts with humans. Tony McDermott, Panhandle Region commissioner, said, “Idaho can manage the bears better.”

The commissioners adopted a position statement saying that state has the regulatory and enforcement mechanisms in place to manage grizzly bears, and that people in Idaho would be more tolerant of bears if the state were managing them. “Key to the success of this effort is effective and efficient management of bear-human conflict,” the statement said.

It also said if delisting were to occur, the commission would continue to act to ensure sustainable grizzly bear populations in the occupied core habitats that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has identified in Idaho. You can read the full statement here.

Surprising predator gets some blame for killing Yellowstone Park elk calves

WILDLIFE — Which predator gets the blame for poor survival of elk calves in Yellowstone National Park?

A. Gray wolf.

B. Grizzly bear.

C. Lake trout.

Answer:  All of the above.

Check out the Billings Gazette story on the latest suprising research — which shouldn't be all that surprising to wildlife enthusiasts who understand the complex ways nature is connected.

Camera collars let biologists tag along with bears

WILDLIFE — Biologists at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game are getting a peek into what city bears do all day.

Six bears were equipped with rugged video cameras attached to collars around their necks, which are allowing biologists to get a good idea of how the four black and two brown bears spent their time last summer.

See the story and video clips.

Photographer documents grizzly out of its den

WILDLIFE — It's time to start packing your bear spray again.

Grizzly bears are emerging from their winter dens pretty much right on schedule.

This photograph comes this week from Yellowstone Tour Guides, which has quite an assortment of photos showing the park's wildlife winning and losing the struggle to survive winter.

Alberta ranchers want hunts on problem grizzlies

ENDANGERED SPECIES – Although Alberta grizzly bears are officially a threatened species in recovery mode, ranchers are asking officials to resume hunting at least for the problem bears in the southwestern corner of the province.

A grizzly bear recovery plan was initiated in 2008 after studies found fewer than 700 grizzlies left in Alberta. Grizzly hunting had be curbed in 2006.

Continued research indicates the bear population healthier than previously known in some areas, especially in the southwest.

Across the province, 15 grizzly bears were killed in 2012 by poachers, motorists and landowners: one problem bear was destroyed; five were killed in self-defence; four were hit on roads; two were poached; and two were mistaken by hunters for black bears. One death was ruled as an unknown cause.

Read more in this Calgary Herald story.

Video: humorous commercial bears viewing

WILDLIFE — Bear with me on this….

The ability of computer generated animation to mix fantasy with reality is a bit alarming, but also quite humorous in the case of this creative Canadian ad for a clothes washing machine reveals.

Researcher not surprised that grizzly checked out Missoula

WILDLIFE — New kid on the block in Montana …

Data from radio collar tracks Montana grizzly's trek near Missoula

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks bear manager Jamie Jonkel said he wasn't surprised to learn that a female grizzly bear had traveled on the fringe of Missoula in the fall of 2011, as his department has been predicting the big bruins would be expanding into the area for years. — Missoulian

Feds consider hunting season on Yellowstone-area grizzlies

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Federal authorities are laying groundwork for possible trophy grizzly bear hunts around the Yellowstone area as soon as 2014, the AP reports.

It's the surest sign yet that more than 30 years of federal protection for grizzlies in the area is nearing an end as their population recovers.