A plan in development

This spring, the Big Sky Resource Council and Allied Waste Management are working with Tim Bennett, Keystone Conservation’s Northern Rockies Bear Manager, to update the refuse storage and collection system in Big Sky. Their ultimate goal is to have a completely bear-proof community.
 
Bennett, a Madison Valley resident and bear biologist, recently presented the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks’ management goals to the Resource Council:
 

  • To manage for a recovered grizzly bear population… and to provide for a continuing expansion of that population into areas that are biologically suitable and socially acceptable.
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  • To maximize the area that is “socially acceptable,” they will employ an adaptive learning process to develop innovative, on the ground management that can be integrated with broad social goals to enhance public faith and increase human tolerance of grizzly bears

 
On the ground, Bennett is partnering with the Big Sky Owners Association and the Big Sky Institute to coordinate a group of volunteers who will tag garbage cans and create a map that tracks garbage trucks, so residents can know down to the hour when the truck will arrive.
 
Keystone Conservation, a Bozeman based non-profit, is dedicated to finding non-lethal solutions to conflicts between native predators and people in the Northern Rockies. E.S.

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Montana FWP
Bear Managers’ Report

By Diane Tipton
 
Montana FWP bear managers meet every year in mid-March to prepare for the state’s bears to emerge from hibernation. About the same time, male grizzly bears are already stirring.
 
During 2010, grizzly and black bear conflicts resulted in the second highest number on record in central/southwest Montana, said Kevin Frey, FWP bear manager in Bozeman. Overall, the Yellowstone Ecosystem recorded its highest number of conflicts to date. 
 
After emerging from dens, bears may return to locations where they found foods late last fall. If one of those places was your yard, remove or secure all food attractants to reduce bear conflicts. Bear managers recommend bringing in winter bird feeders and seed and collecting and cleaning other attractants by April 1.
 
Electric fences have been the greatest achievement in terms of reducing chicken, beehive and sheep depredation, said Mike Madel, FWP bear management specialist in Choteau.
 
“Wherever sheep occur in grizzly habitat, it is only a matter of time before the bears will locate them. Sheep use common bedding grounds that become saturated with scent and are very easy for bears to find,” he said.
 
There are some nonprofit organizations interested in reducing bear depredation that sometimes match funds with livestock producers, and there are also matching funds available through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Madel said.
 
Diane Tipton is the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Statewide Information Officer.