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Know the West

A grizzly situation


Bad news for grizzly bears, in Montana and Yellowstone. During the past decade, wildlife managers killed 58 of the federally-protected bruins in northwestern Montana. That makes biologists the biggest source of human-caused grizzly deaths in the region, ahead of train or car strikes (46), illegal shooting (34), and self-defense (20). The “management removals” happen when grizzlies raid garbage or kill livestock on private land. But only one of those removals took place in Glacier National Park, although it holds nearly half of northwest Montana’s 765 grizzlies and gets more than 2 million visitors a year. That’s because the park has few permanent residences and enforces strict rules for storing food.

Another population of grizzlies, in and around Yellowstone National Park, got off the Endangered Species List in 2007 thanks to their rebounding numbers. But since then, 64 bears have died, mostly in management removals and hunting incidents. If the trend continues, Yellowstone bears could regain protected status.

Grizzlies aren't about to pass by open trash dumps, ignore cows and sheep, and keep out of the way of hunters. "It's not rocket science," says Montana bear manager Jamie Jonkel in the Great Falls Tribune. "If you don't want the bears … get rid of the attractants that draw them in."