Illegal grizzly bear kill found in NW Montana. FWP investigates. Billings Gazette.

Update 5/28/2009. More about grizzly bears in the same general area (actually about 10 miles southwest). Grizzlies roaming east valley. The Daily Inter Lake.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

17 Responses to Grizzly bear carcass found gutted and skinned north of Columbia Falls, MT

  1. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Too bad this had to happen. Out of curiosity, does anyone know if Montana or Wyoming has released plans on any proposed grizzly hunting seasons? I am not looking to hunt (never had a desire to shoot a bear), just wondering. I haven’t heard as much about the Yellowstone grizzly population delisting in that regard.

  2. avatar dave smith says:

    The April 15, 2009 “Yellowstone [grizzly bear] mortality and conflicts reduction report” discussed “Hunting in limited numbers.” Idaho said, “Limited hunting opportunity would likely build trust and support/tolerance for grizzly bear management and possibly lower mortality.”

    Montana said, “If certain areas of drainages that have a chronic bear mortality issue, discussion should be generated to determine if limited hunts would help reduce conflicts leading to human safety and bear mortalities.”

    Wyoming said, “have a limited hunt as soon as possible and stress to the hunting public that . . . preventable mortalities reduce the huntable surplus of bears.”

  3. avatar Ryan says:

    Dave,

    Wyomings plan sounds like how bears are managed on the Kenai Peninsula, there is a total take which is directly affected by mortalities due to human encounters/damage. There hasn’t been a season on the kenai peninsula in years due to mortalties due to damage complaints.

  4. avatar dave smith says:

    The Yellowstone area limits were set up before grizzlies were delisted. Same basic principal as the Kenai hunt. If there are ever any “surplus” bears for hunters in the Yellowstone area, I don’t know how many bears each state will be allocated. Given the number of grizzly bears that were living outside the primary conservation area (about 1/3 the population) and the lack of protection on those lands, I think Yellowstone will always be at or beyond the mortality limits–which means no legal hunts.

  5. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    It sounds like they have decent plans. Now if they could just do the same with wolves, especially Wyoming…

  6. avatar Ken Cole says:

    If the mortality numbers remain above the limits for 3 consecutive years, if I understand correctly, the bears are re-listed.

  7. avatar Save bears says:

    Ken,

    With the manipulation of the numbers that go on in the agencies…without court action the Yellowstone Grizzly will not go back on the endangered species list..

  8. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    What is the limits for mortality?

  9. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Sorry, I should say what ARE the limits for mortality? Bad grammar.

  10. avatar dave smith says:

    Mortality limits on the Kenai or a total of 20 bears, or 8 adult females, whichever comes first, out of a population of 250-300 bears. These are known kills.

    The Yellowstone mortality limits are impossible to understand unless you have a Ph.D in mathematics from Harvard. I don’t, but an acquaintance within the system assures me the limits are ultra conservative.

    Yellowstone mortality limits are figuring that for every known kill, there are something like 1.4 unknown kills. The breakdown on total bear kills and the # of adult females killed gets even more complicated.

    Bottom line is, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study team can’t explain to the public how they estimate the population, or set the mortality limits.

  11. avatar Save bears says:

    It seems as if the mortality limits for the Yellowstone population has become a moving target and as Dave said, don’t seem to be able to be explained so you can understand it!

  12. avatar dave smith says:

    I think the IGBC is in a quandry–its estimates on how many grizzlies probably die for every known death are so high it can’t go public with the numbers. Hunters would be all over the WY, MT, ID fish and game departments. Hunters would go nuts because high mortality means no legal hunting season on grizzlies. Politicians would have a field day.

    In 2008, there were 48 grizzly bear deaths in the Yellowstone region. How many were “known,” and how many were estimated? The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee won’t say. Or can’t say.

  13. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    How confusing it must be to be a Yellowstone bear. All summer people are all over the place just walking around and shooting these funny machines that just click click and beep but smell the same as guns. . then in the fall all of a sudden these seemingly passive beings start smelling like elk pee and sneaking around leaving good piles of food but you can’t even look at them before they freak out. They don’t understand simple bear language and start running at the start of bear negotiations and then shoot to kill without warning. To bears it must seem like there are two distinct species of people and then some confusing crossbreeds. I would love to see a book written by a bear on how to deal with people.

  14. avatar dave smith says:

    All summer people dressed in bright colored clothes stumble around trails in the backcountry and bump into bears. They don’t understand simple bear language. They start running at the start of bear negotiations. When they get charged by a bear, they spray the bear without warning.

    Why single out hunters, Linda?

    Most of the time when hikers and hunters startle a nearby grizzly, the bear charges instantly, or is already in full charge when they see it. Too late for negotiations.

  15. avatar dave smith says:

    Egads, I think I’ve figured out how the IGBC estimates grizzly bear mortality. When the IGBC says there were 48 dead grizzlies in the Yellowstone region for 2008, the IGBC means there were 25 known deaths, and an estimate that another 23 bears died.

    The IGBC has 3 catagories of bear deaths.

    You start out with “sanctioned agency removals” =A. These are known deaths. Just for the sake of argument let’s say we had 8 adult grizzlies in 2008.

    You add “radio-collared bears lost” (excluding sanctioned agency removals) =B. These are known deaths. Let’s say we had 3 adult grizzlies in 2008

    A = 8
    B = 3

    A+B=11 known deaths.

    Next we add “C,” which is “reported and unreported” deaths. First you look at other “reported” (known) deaths—a black bear hunter that shot a grizzly by mistake, a car that hit a bear in Yellowstone, etc.

    Let’s say there were 14 reported deaths. The IGBC has some magic formula that says if there were 14 reported deaths, there were 23 unreported deaths, for a total of 37 bear deaths. C=37

    A = 8
    B = 3
    C = 37

    Total of 48 dead bears. 25 known deaths, 23 estimated deaths.

    You can find the IGBC grizzly bear mortality formula on p.2-3 of the Yellowstone [grizzly bear] mortality and conflicts reduction report, April 15, 2009

  16. avatar Jeff says:

    It was my understanding that Wyoming would never hunt bears in the primary recovery area which consists of National Forest immediately adjacent to Yellowstone. South of 287 hunting would be allowed at some future time on bears living in the Mount Leidy Highlands, Gros Ventre, Wind River Range etc…

  17. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Jeff, are those the areas that problem bears get relocated to? Somebody had told me where that was but I can’t remember what he said.

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