Grizzly Bears: A Cry for Help
from Gallatin Wildlife Association
If you think there has been a rash of news lately concerning grizzly bears and human conflicts, you are not alone. This may lead one to wonder, what the heck is going on. In most conflicts, it has been the grizzly bear who has come out on the short end of the conflict. The bears are on the move and humans are, at times, finding themselves in the way.
That is the gist of the most recent meeting of the Grizzly Bear Advisory Council which recently met here in Bozeman for two days in the month of November. Sometimes man just doesn’t know how to live with grizzlies or we are just unwilling to do so. Sometimes it is us who force the issue.
The future populace of bears and their respective connectivity is going to be dependent upon the numerous threats existing in the Northern Rockies today. They are varied and not easily surmountable. Part of that reason is “us.” If we as a people want to overcome barriers for wildlife, barriers which we have placed in their way, then we must come together and use science to help us find that way. The threats need not be the final word hindering grizzly bear distribution across the west, but they will be if we do nothing. First, we must recognize what some of these threats are.
– Loss of suitable habitat
– Lack of secure wildlife corridors that enable and encourage grizzlies to move
– Lack of genetic connectivity between the Yellowstone and Northern Continental grizzly population
– Negative impacts of recreation in key habitat areas and connecting wildlife corridors
– We need to realize that their best habitat is wilderness and that large wilderness areas need to be connected with protected wildlife corridors
– We could also include climate change that has already affected some sources of their food supply, i.e. whitebark pine
We need to take concrete steps to conserve these iconic bears in the contiguous states. Grizzly bears will not be truly conserved until they can recover more of their traditional range and habitat. We can do that, but it will take proper land management policies and the will of the American people. Climate change, motorized and non-motorized use, livestock operations will all have a negative impact on the general population of bears and the connectivity of bears if we don’t manage those issues now.
We urge the Bozeman community to join the Gallatin Wildlife Association on Tuesday, December 3rd when we host local nonprofit Save the Yellowstone Grizzly for a special event at Bozeman Public Library. Beginning at 6:30pm, this hour-long evening presentation will discuss the future of this magnificent species.