Annual scientific trapping of Eastern Idaho grizzly bears underway
Not for control, but for population monitoring-
There aren’t many grizzlies in Eastern Idaho. They are pretty much confined to the Targhee portion of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest up against Yellowstone Park and Grand Teton Park. Their range is slowly expanding. For example, grizzlies used to be found only north of Badger Creek up against Grand Teton, but now they are occasionally found all the way to the southern tip of the West Slope of the Tetons.* They are also slowly reoccupying the Idaho/Montana border (which is also the Continental Divide).
Annual scientific grizzly bear trapping to begin. By Gregg Losinski. River City Weekly (Idaho Falls, ID)
– – –
Actually the southern tip of the Tetons is in Wyoming.
Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.
53 Responses to Annual scientific trapping of Eastern Idaho grizzly bears underway
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I hate to see all of this trapping going on. You would think that collared and previously trapped bears might behave differently which could affect the very research they are doing. I thought the last study by the feds using DNA was a better way to count and monitor population. Less risky for the bears, too.
Trap, Dart, Drug, Collar, Overdose, Infect, Kill, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat….
“Repeat, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat…”
That does seem to be your strategy, Larry. Repeat it enough times and people might actually begin to believe you.
I agree with JB. The anti-collar rant is old esp. since the vast majority of data on elusive wildlife comes from collars which rarely even harm the animal under study. In this case the bears will get a free meal of venison to top it off…
It seems that people understanding more about bears colonizing Idaho will only help the bears and force/teach people to live with them. There have been quite a few human-bear conflicts in the Island Park area and knowing more about the bears will help people learn to better live with them which will help the bear population overall.
What are they gonna do, give male grizzlies Viagra? Round up all the E. Idaho grizzlies at a conference, show them a map, and tell them to avoid areas where people consider them politically and/or socially unacceptable? Fine bears that get into garbage, dogfood and other high calorie snacks? You don’t manage grizzly bears, you manage human activities in grizzly country. “Better manage bears” is bureaucratic talk for “hunt grizzlies.” There was just a report posted about Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming wanting a grizzly bear hunt.
I was personally involved in a number of trappings and druggings of bears in the early 70’s (23 griz in the Lake area alone in 1973) and also have been indirectly involved with the bear trappers until 2003. The trappers stayed at the cabins with me or I would see the remains of their trap areas after they left my area.. Some trappers were cowboys and some were very wildlife caring.
The ones using snares were the worst for bears. Too many times the cable to the tree broke and then a bear was off with it tight around its ankle. I’d follow the blood trail for aways. Don’t know how many actually rid the snare but I do know by the torn up mess at the trap site it had to be very painful to the bear.
These incidents of bears leaving with snares were never reported that I know of. It was just said no bears were trapped.
The druggings were hit and miss if done in the open (as compared to drugging in a culvert). If the dart hit the wrong spot you had a dead or bear with an eye out etc.). The dose is made to stop a bear quick but if the bear gets away and you can’t find it right away the bear can die. Then it was coverup time in public areas (campgrounds). Drag the dead bear into the culvert trap and inform the visitors present we were taking the bear to another location to release it.
Accountability of bear mishaps is small.
On the positive side bear collars and the rumor of microchips in bears meant less bears were killed by outfitters. Tracking bears via radio also does have animal distribution value.
As to whether the amount of trapping going on today has more value than not I don’t know. Every day the trappers visited a snare or trap in the back country meant bears were more aware of what the trappers were trying to do. I would see tracks of griz coming close to the snare (100-400yds.) or culvert and then see the same tracks the next day(s). The outfitters also made a habit of checking out these traps on a daily basis. They would try to get there before the trappers did. Of course all this circus made for entertainment to all except the bear.
Overall I’d have to say the peripheral happenings on the “scientific” and lay person side of bears is more for sensational than actual helping of bears when it comes to physical trapping. There is good but I think the management community needs to do a better job of sorting out the biologists who really are there to help as compared to those inhouse who look forward to ” annual trapping of bears’…whether it is Idaho, Montana or Yellowstone. Just my thoughts.
I forgot to add some other things I have seen : Photo OP for all capture crew members with the drugged animals, metal tags and colored ribbons in each ear(Black Bears &Grizzlies in Yellowstone), giant plastic numbers on each wing (Condors in the Grand Canyon), Large, shaved into the hair ID numbers(Elephant Seals in California), Giant red painted ID numbers(Polar Bears at Churchill), Internal Radios (Sea Otters)(Olympic Marmots)(Rattlesnakes) and a host of other animals, Birds dyed completely with pink, green or blue paint(Snow Geese at Bosque), Capture dart sticking in the intestines(Pronghorn on the Bison Range). Radios attached to tail feathers (Great Gray Owls near my home), Research animal shot in the head by Park Ranger after being overdosed by incompetent biologist(Bighorn in Glacier). I could go on.
Biologists lie about how many animals are killed and injured by this wholesale assault on our wildlife.(“I was trying to trap bears, not Jaguars”).
The game- farm research industry on our public lands needs to be downsized, if not completely eliminated.
Why not skip the grizzly bear trapping, and do some management that would benefit grizzlies–no hound hunting or baiting for black bears in occupied grizzly bear habitat? My plan wouldn’t cost a dime, wouldn’t stress grizzlies or result in death or injuries to grizzlies due to trapping, and it should reduce grizzly bear mortality. Everybody wins. Except bureaucrats who pretend that trapping grizzlies justifies their existence.
Larry, you simply don’t have any credibility on this issue. Frankly, I’m not even sure I believe you when you say that you’ve witnessed these events. It is true that there are and always will be some capture-related injury and mortality. However, you’ve been crusading relentlessly with a lot of insinuation and very little hard evidence.
For those interested in mortality rates, a 2006 study of capture-related mortality in large mammals in Scandinavia found the following mortality rates:
Brown Bears: .9%
From: Arnemo et al (2006). Wildlife Biology 12(1):109-113.
Look, I agree that we should absolutely strive for zero capture-related mortality. I also believe we need more studies that follow-up on captured animals to see how capture and/or collaring affects behavior and survival long-term. For these reasons I support non-invasive techniques for estimating population sizes (e.g. hair snags) where they can be used. But the hard line you’ve taken on radio and GPS collars is totally out of touch with reality.
FYI: Trust me, you don’t want me to start recounting stories about what I’ve seen wildlife photographers do. 😉
problem: excessive grizzly mortality in the Yellowstone region
solution A: stop hound hunting black bears in grizzly country
solution B: stop baiting black bears in grizzly country
solution C: trap grizzly bears for the 25th year in a row so you can pretend you’re doing research necessary to manage grizzlies instead of actually doing something about grizzly bear mortality related to black bear baiting and hound hunting
I think that’s an oversimplification; that is, I do not believe the sole purpose of capture/collar efforts is to reduce grizzly mortality due to black bear hunting. However, I do agree that getting rid of bear baiting and hound hunting would likely reduce grizzly mortality. Moreover, it would do wonders for the image of fair chase hunters.
jb–and what’s the purpose of the capture/collar efforts? After 25 years and $193.736 million dollars, haven’t we done enough “research” to “manage” Yellowstone grizzlies? What can state and federal bureaucrats possibly hope to learn about “managing” grizzlies from this research that they don’t already know?
Dave, I agree with you on that one. What are people continuing to study? I know that we will never know everything about grizzlies (or any other animal) but what are they still studying after 25 years?
Do you honestly believe we already know EVERYTHING about grizzlies; that is, there is nothing to be learned from collaring bears?!
(1) Bears have the nasty tendency of dying; collars placed on animals helps biologists identify when, where, and how bears die and determine risk factors for bears (note: these may not be the same from year to year). I assume you would agree that this information is useful?
(2) Ecosystems are dynamic–need I mention global climate change? Bears behavior may change based upon the prevailing conditions at the time. Long term monitoring efforts help us understand how bears respond (in terms of home range size, diet, predation, etc.) to a changing environment.
(3) You need to both count and track bears in order to determine (a) if they are threatened/endangered and (b) where they are threatened/endangered. NOTE: States are REQUIRED by the FWS to do this type of monitoring for 5 years post-delisting.
FYI: From the ESA section 4:
“(g) MONITORING.—(1) The Secretary shall implement a system in cooperation with the States to monitor effectively for not less than five years the status of all species which have recovered to the point at which the measures provided pursuant to this Act are no longer necessary and which, in accordance with the provisions of this section, have been removed from either of the lists published under subsection (c).”
jb–grizzlies die when you allow hunters in grizzly habitat to hunt black bears with hounds and bait. We don’t need more research to prove this.
Global climate change. If the states and feds are worried that this is an issue, DON’T delist grizzlies until the issue is resolved. The feds looked at less whitebark pine nuts due to global warming = higher grizzly mortality and said, screw you, we’re delisting griz while Bush is in office.
“…grizzlies die when you allow hunters in grizzly habitat to hunt black bears with hounds and bait. We don’t need more research to prove this.”
Yes, you already mentioned that. You’re not trying to tell me that those are the only reasons grizzlies die, are you? Are we to believe that habitat quality, changing food availability, motor-vehicle collisions, elk hunters, habituation, etc., have nothing to do with grizzly population size, bear densities, and behavior?
The primary source of mortality (for any species) is likely to vary depending on a host of conditions. But-as I mentioned-that’s not only one reason to do long-term monitoring; it is also a requirement of the ESA post-delisting.
Look, you’ve made it pretty clear that you don’t trust/like: (a) wildlife researchers, (b) state wildlife agencies, (c) the fish and wildlife service, or (d) the national park service. That’s your prerogative. But suggesting that nothing can be learned by long-term monitoring and research efforts…? Give me a break.
JB, you make some good points I didn’t consider.
Dave Smith, I do agree that the delisting was possibly premature.
Thanks, ProWolf. And I agree that the delisting of Yellowstone grizzlies was premature. In fact, the actions of the Bush Admin. with regard to endangered species were downright reckless all around.
JB, reckless is putting it lightly.
jb–we’ve been monitoring grizzlies in the Yellowstone region since they were listed as a threatened species in 1975. That’s a long time. We don’t need more monitoring and research, we need to make decisions based on the data and research we have. Give me–and grizzlies–a break.
jb–based on decades of research all over North America, and Yellowstone specifically, we need to act, not procrastinate and make silly excuses for more research before taking action. There’s plenty of research/data to justify taking action to protect grizzlies in the Yellowstone region. The state and feds just lack the balls to do it.
Dave- are you suggesting that bear populations and/or conditions in Yellowstone don’t change over time? That bears and their fates don’t need to be monitored? Also, our understanding of bears improves all the time, because of research… and that’s the only reason why it improves! And just because research is being done on bears doesn’t mean it provides reason to delist them…
These numbers for Scandinavia seem alarmingly high! Even more because when the authors say “Scandinavia” they are talking about Sweden and Norway only, without Finland. At least I could not find any reference to Finland on a first glance into the document. Sweden and Norway share only a few hundred wolves in total (Denmark has none). They loose 4 wolves and lynx out of every 100 captured (and collared?) annually, wolverines 3 out of 100. From the data provided it seems that they actually captured that number of wolves (89). Bears and moose seem to do better. Even the authors of the document say that a mortality rate >2% for any large mammal species is not acceptable.
Dave, you’re conflating two issues: (1) whether agencies have enough information to take certain actions and (2) whether further research and monitoring is desirable/needed.
I would agree (as I said at the onset of this conversation) that agencies could do more for grizzly bears by making some changes–for starters, they should’ve been left on the list. However, I disagree that we have all of the information we’ll ever need to manage grizzly bears. Let’s take your best case scenario: Let’s say grizzlies were re-listed and the policy changes you’ve suggested were implemented. We would still need research and monitoring to have any idea whether or not these efforts were having the desired effect.
Research provides the factual basis for wildlife management in the US. Without it, interest groups could assert anything.
I think what rates of capture-related mortality are acceptable is likely to vary considerably from person to person. I agree that the numbers should be lower, but I don’t find them “alarming”. My point in posting this information was to provide some factual basis by which people could evaluate Larry’s claims. I get tired of anecdotes and insinuation when, in many cases, hard data are readily available.
To clarify, what the authors say (from the abstract): “We suggest that wildlife professionals should strive for a zero mortality rate but adopt the standard that a mortality rate of > 2% probably should not be accepted in any large mammalian species.”
However, I think it is important to provide further context for evaluating the information in this article. First, the figures the authors provide are from long-term research projects. It isn’t as if they accidentally killed 3.4% of the wolf population in one year. Moreover, if you do a little math you’ll find that, in total, they evaluated capture-related mortality for 4,825 animals, 62 of which died as a result (either directly or indirectly) of capture. That means total capture-related mortality was only 1.3%. It is important to consider that this rate as an order of magnitude lower than many early studies conducted in the 1960s which found that capture-related mortality ranged from 25% to as much as 35%. Due to improved protocols and more effective drugs, capture-related mortality is very low and has been improving.
You can’t hunt bears with hounds in Wyoming. Is is possible that if you outlaw bait you increase the number of grizzlies killed? I don’t hunt bear as I like to eat what I shoot, but I know people who run cougars with hounds and they rarely kill anything it is more about the chase. Same thing with bait hunters, they watch and monitor what is visiting the station and try to shoot mature boars only. Are errors made? When I was 12 I accidentally shot a hen pheasant, a student of mine shot a young bull bison lasf fall and he had a cow tag, mistakes are made but if they are rare it isn’t the end of the world. Wyoming actually changed its bison season to be bull or cow/calf as distinguishing a young bull from a cow can be tough.
Thanks Bob Jackson for your all of your past & present insights, I have learned much from you!!!!!.
Gregg Losinski with the ID fish & game has always struck me as a good guy, but if this trapping is being coordinated with the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team’s effort to monitor the Yellowstone population, Losinski’s press release should have said so. If not, well I don’t think Idaho and the IGBST need to monitor the grizzly population seperately.
About 20 to 30 years ago, pioneering grizzly bear researchers Frank and John Craighead said we had the knowledge of bears and bear habitat necessary to “save bears,” but not the political and social willpower. More research won’t solve that problem.
Whoops–just read the press release again, and guess what it says plain as day.
Can you prove that Grizzlys are more likely to be killed over bait and dogs than by not using either. Both of those methods allow for close viewing and target confirmation. Spot and stalk does not, please provides some facts to back up your claims.. Personally it just sounds like someone who doesn’t know what he’s talking about, making a non issue into an issue to push an alter agenda.
Ryan—Here’s an example from 9/10/07. Incidents like this give hunters and hunting a bad name.
By Keith Ridler
BOISE, Idaho — Federal and state wildlife officials said Friday they are investigating the killing of a grizzly bear in north-central Idaho, where the last confirmed sighting of the species was in 1946.
The bear, a member of a threatened species, was killed Monday by a hunter near Kelly Creek about three miles from the Montana border, said Steve Nadeau, statewide large carnivore manager for the Idaho fish and game department.
Nadeau said the hunter, who is from Tennessee, was on a guided trip, hunting black bear with bait. Black bear hunting season opened Aug. 30.
How many were killed by hikers and wildlife photographers who had accidental run ins last year compared to how many were killed by hunters?
Why trap and count grizzlies all over the Yellowstone region? For the Northern Continental Divide bears, the states/feds are now just “sampling” the grizzly population in one small area to determine the overall population trend.
The states/feds were confident enough about their population estimate for the whole Yellowstone region to delist grizzlies. Why not just sample the bear population in one small area to determine trends, just like state/federal agencies are doing for the Northern Continental Divide.
“Why trap and count grizzlies all over the Yellowstone region? For the Northern Continental Divide bears, the states/feds are now just “sampling” the grizzly population in one small area to determine the overall population trend.”
In this context, “sampling” simply means that the population (N) is being estimated based on counts in some smaller units. I can’t find any information that says that their sampling is confined to “one small area”. I have, however, found their reported method (see below). As to why one would trap grizzlies “all over Yellowstone” as opposed to a small area, the larger the area, the greater the sample and the greater your confidence in your population estimates.
See page 9 of this pdf:
You missed this tid bit in your story. Bait or no bait, I don’t think it would have mattered.
” Nadeau said Fish and Game had been telling black bear hunters that there were no grizzly bears in the area. He said hunters are now being warned that grizzlies are in the area, and that they are not legal to hunt. ”
jb–south fork study, rick mace, Montana fwp
The states and feds are gonna claim that this study, combined with the infamous John McCain dna study, is good enough to delist grizzlies in the northern continental divide region.
Ryan–you think the hunter who couldn’t tell the difference between a black bear and a grizzly would have found a bear to shoot without bait? C’mon. Not bait, no bear for this guy–which means no dead grizzly.
“The states and feds are gonna claim that this study, combined with the infamous John McCain dna study, is good enough to delist grizzlies in the northern continental divide region.”
Dave, it seems we’re talking about different studies. I’m going to pass on commenting on what may or may not happen as a result of a study that I have little information about. However, since you seem hell bent on challenging any and all science, I’d like to point out that it was research on the genetic viability of wolves that kept them on the endangered species list. As I said before, without a factual basis with which to evaluate claims, you simply have interest groups shouting at one another.
true – just as true : science is meaningless without the willingness of those interest groups to shout.
I’m not sure I would agree that it is “meaningless” but certainly science is less meaningful without advocates.
State officials warn grizzly studies in northwest Montana in danger
Written by Karl Puckett and published in the Great Falls Tribune 4/25/07
CHOTEAU — Officials with state Fish, Wildlife and Parks said Tuesday the state can no longer afford to study the long-term population trend of grizzlies in northwest Montana without financial help from federal agencies.
If the monitoring abruptly ends because of the funding pinch, delisting efforts would be set back years, the FWP officials said.
“Zero chance of delisting unless we have some sort of monitoring program,” said Rick Mace, a Kalispell-based research biologist who heads the state’s monitoring efforts.
Members of the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem subcommittee of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee were informed of the state’s financial shortfall at its spring meeting at the Stage Stop Inn Conference Room in Choteau.
The announcement came just five days before grizzlies in Yellowstone National Park will officially be delisted.
The committee leads recovery efforts for the bear in the Lower 48 and the subcommittee implements grizzly conservation efforts in northwest Montana’s 9,400 square-mile NCDE, which includes Glacier National Park and federal and private lands along the Rocky Mountain Front.
A key factor in the delisting the 600-plus grizzlies in Yellowstone was scientifically documenting population counts and trends and the same is true in northwest Montana, officials said. That’s why funding for the monitoring is so critical, officials said.
“The ramifications, as you all know, are huge,” said FWP’s James Satterfield, a Kalispell regional supervisor.
The state is in the third year of leading an interagency monitoring study to document whether the population trend in the NCDE is going up, down or remaining steady.
I’m not sure what point you are trying to make? I don’t see anything in that article that I know to be factually inaccurate. As I said population monitoring is required by the ESA.
I agree that grizzlies should not have been delisted, but that isn’t the fault of the people who count them. It is the fault of those at the FWS who made a political decision to delist.
You mean he couldn’t have done it spot and stalk just fine? The guy was from TN, I would be willing to guess his bear hunting expirience was minimal at best. That being said, armed with a pair of good binoculars and a spotting scope and a little effort it would have been just as easy. How many gizzlies have been killed over bait in known grizzly areas with in the GYE? (confirmed)
2008 mortalities are available here: http://www.nrmsc.usgs.gov/files/norock/products/IGBST/2008report.pdf
2008 Report (p. 22-24)
These are my quick categorizations from looking at the report:
Management removal/Defense of life: 15
Hunting-related (mistaken black bear): 5
Hunting-related (other): 18
Capture related: 2
Human-caused (illegal): 2
Ryan, so if I went to Ontario it would be just as easy for me to kill a black bear on my own with a bit of spot and stalk hunting as if I booked a hunt at the “Rainbow Point Lodge [Website | Summary]
Black Bear hunting is not a sideline with us. It is a professionally handled hunt that gives either the bow or gun hunter the best possible chance of success. You will hunt over an active pre-baited site with the treestand & shot set up accordingly.”
jb–When I compare grizzly population studies in Yellowstone, to grizzly population studies in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE), here’s what i see.
NCDE– Part 1. We spend $5 million for the John McCain dna study, and that gave us a one time snapshot of the grizzly population. Part 2. We spend about $400k a year for another study that samples a small part the population year after year. That’s good enough to “prove” whether the overall population is increasing, decreasing, or static. We do this for 6 years, and assuming all goes well, we delist grizzlies in the NCDE.
Yellowstone. Part 1. We spend 25 years trying to get a count on grizzlies, and finally we’re so confident we’ve got a good count, we delist grizzlies. This is our one time snapshot of the grizzly population. Part 2. We keep spend millions every year to count grizzlies throughout the Yellowstone region.
Why not just do a little $400k a year sampling study like in the NCDE? If that’s not sufficient for Yellowstone, how can the Interagency Grizzly Bear Agency claim it’s good enough to delist grizzlies in the NCDE?
It’d help if you actually had feild expirience. First off most of the west is relatively open with good opportunities to glass, spot, and stalk for bears. Where as AB, ON, and other areas are relatively thick and flat not creating a good area for spot and stalk.
The point of my argument is that it is much less likely to mistakenly take a grizz over bait than it is in a spot and stalk situation/suprise and I have bear tag in my pocket situation than with either dogs or bait. Obiviously with your lack of real world knowledge of how bear hunting actually works, you’ll be content to be misinformed.
The other hunting related should also be catergorized as DOL as well IMHO.
Best of luck convincing people that WY, WA, MT and ID should allow (or continue to allow) black bear baiting and hound hunting of black bears because you’ve got a theory that it might reduce the number of grizzlies killed by mistake.
I’ve hunted for deer, elk, and moose and all sorts of small game in Wyoming and Montana. Never wanted to kill a bear. If I did, I’d spot and stalk. Don’t think I’d sleep well if I let a pack of dogs tree a bear and then shot the poor bugger while it was sitting on a branch just 17 yards away. Shooting a bear with its head stuck in a barrel of day old donuts is to hunting what tossing a stick of dynamite into a trout stream is to fishing.
So what your saying then is that shooting one from a long distance or by chance creates less of an avenue for mis identification.
What I’ve gathered from this discussion is that you don’t like hunting bears with dogs, so your going to make up a problem to stregnthen your own convictions and try to push your agenda.
You can now go back to bitching about bear spray….
An outfitter up the Middle Fork of Piney Creek, South of Jackson, west of Big Piney reported a grizzly to Wyoming Game and Fish…this bear was reported, will be monitored and was not killed as it was on bait and was properly identified and reported. If Wyoming only allowed “spot and stalk” of bears this bear might be dead. As is this is the furthest south of any confirmed grizzly in North America.
Jeff, baiting may be a good way to ensure that grizzlies are less likely to be misidentified, but the fact remains that any decent hunter knows his or her target before they shoot and if they are even slightly unsure they do not. Realistically, there are plenty of differences between a black and grizzly that there should not be cases of mistaken identity.
On a different note, good to see grizzlies venturing further south and being confirmed.