A grizzly’s life is a solid one. They are the biggest, baddest animals roaming the wilderness. Looking for food, a mate, trying to get away to from a bigger grizzly, they cover some ground. Albeit a slow process but the bears are encroaching the Bitterroots, and for some, a new plan needs to be put in place.
In 2001 the United States Fish and Wildlife Service decided that the Bitterroot Mountains would be a natural recovery zone for grizzlies. What that means is that no transplants or re-introductions would take place. Bears would have to walk in on their own and establish a population if one was to ever form. There have been rumors and a photo of a grizzly bear encroaching the area from the Sapphire Range to the east of Bitterroot River, but the report could not be confirmed by Jamie Jonkel, Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks bear biologist. What can be confirmed is a collared grizzly making its way to Kelly Creek from the Cabinet-Yaak area according to USFWS Bear Recovery Coordinator Hilary Cooley. With that grizzly making its way into the area, Cooley wants to increase monitoring with cameras and DNA sampling. That comes at a cost upwards of 200k that the department doesn’t have.
A new management plan is what the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, USFWS, MFGD, IDGF, and any other alphabet acronym agency involved with the grizzly bears in the Bitterroots is looking for. The plan laid out in 2001 is coming to fruition. Let’s see how these agencies tiptoe around current legal battles surrounding the grizzlies to manage them properly.