Grizzly Bear Recovery Project
The state of Montana is a stronghold for grizzly bears - with cery healthy grizzly bear populations in the northwestern part of the state (the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem) and in the southwest (the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem). Montana's Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department (FWP) has developed a statewide grizzly bear recovery program that identifies the need for connectivity between these two healthy populations as critical to the full recovery of the grizzly bear in Montana. A critical challenge in establishing this important connectivity is managing the potential for bear / human conflicts as grizzly bears begin to expand their populations outside of the large expanses of federal lands where they currently reside.
Despite their healthy populations within the Northern Continental Divide and Yellowstone Ecosystems, the success of grizzly bear recovery depends on establishing connectivity of these two populations and the further expansion of its presence into areas that are not fully under federal ownership.
Between and around the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to the south and the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem to the north are the working landscapes and communities that make Montana, Montana. These working landscapes include a mosaic of smaller federal and state lands and large expanses of private lands where ranchers and farmers have, for generations raised their families by raising what the land provides. Around these working lands are small communities and significant transportation which connect the expanding human population. In addition to the growing human populations, we are seeing an every increasing demand for outdoor related recreation and tourism on our public lands. Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks illustrate this by reporting that their visitation counts have more than doubled in recent years.
As grizzly bear populations continue to grow and their occupied range expands, FWP biologists and wildlife managers are faced with the unique challenge of maintaining a healthy bear population AND providing for the safe coexistence of bears and people. To address this challenge, they have developed and are implementing an active management and outreach program that involves carefully monitoring bear movements as they venture outside of the large expanses of federal lands and working directly with landowners and communities to prevent and/or manage human bear conflicts.
Funding for this project will be used to support FWP biologists in their efforts to work with landowners and communities to reduce bear attractants and to better educate communities on how to address expanding grizzly bear populations.
Specifically, the funding provided will be used to support the actions identified in the Montana FWP Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan, including:
- Interns and seasonal biologists
- Bear Lockers & Canisters
- Argos GPS Collars
- Electric Fencing
- Education Coordinators and seasonal biologists
- Educational Equipment (i.e., bear charging robots which help educate outdoor recreationist on how to deploy bear spray and education trailers)