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‘Town Crier’ – Briefs from the Region (2) – 12/3/19

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Grizzly deaths in Glacier reach record high

Since last year, 102 confirmed grizzly deaths in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, and at least 84 of them were human-related, according to Montana Public Radio. Previous years never yielded more than a maximum of 34 mortalities. While vehicles and trains caused a portion of the deaths, some of the dead bears were euthanized due to negative interactions with livestock. “The population of the grizzlies here in this area, they are definitely recovered. The numbers will say that,” Blackfeet Reservation rancher Kristen Kipp told MTPR. The statement holds water—the total population in the NCDE is around 1,050, a figure 36 percent higher than 2004 numbers. Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte suggested delisting the animals so they can be more aggressively managed, a regional hot-button issue that has been debated on a federal level since 2017. Gianforte’s opinion is backed by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ Cecily Costello, a bear biologist who believes the increase in deaths can be attributed chiefly to a phenomenon that younger bears avoid larger bears’ territory, thus thrusting them into more densely populated, suburban areas. She feels the spike in deaths can’t yet be deemed a trend despite calls from fellow biologists in Montana and across the nation for patience in allowing more bears to exist before a tentative delisting.

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