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Yellowstone Grizzly populations on the rise

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Yellowstone Grizzly populations on the rise

Postby Bill Reed » Fri Oct 29, 2010 1:47 am

Looks like more bears will be moving into surrounding areas.
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/env ... ears_N.htm
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Re: Yellowstone Grizzly populations on the rise

Postby peakhugger » Fri Oct 29, 2010 7:15 am

And yet, they're still listed as threatened due to a recent lawsuit


<On soapbox>

Sometimes I wish people in the environmentalist realm could see that when a species stays on the ESA list after biological recovery, it: 1) does harm to the ESA and 2) redirects limited resources to that species and its habitat. 1) The ESA is damaged in that the management is not returned to the states despite relative biological security (and in the off chance that something goes wrong, "We can emergency relist in a few weeks if necessary" Chris Servheen, Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator). Thus, groups strongly opposed to the initial listing of other species for any reason fight even harder to keep that species off the list, as history shows that species aren't delisted after recovery, at least within a decade. 2) Limited financial resources are inefficiently used if a species is biologically recovered; other species whose listing is warranted but precluded don't even get on the list due to limited funds or other resources. I won't even get into the money needed to fight lawsuits... In case you want a specific, highly relevant example of what could be done with the federal Yellowstone grizzly funds, there's a large expense on the Idaho/Montana border called the Bitterroot/Selway that is currently devoid of grizzly bears, despite being prime, wilderness habitat. A reintroduction effort was proposed in 2000 and even had local community support, but funds were not available for the action and it ended up dying under a less friendly presidential administration and secretary of interior in 2001. Delisting the GYE population would undoubtedly result in a large portion of those resources directed to efforts like this one.

Furthermore, the state plans (example) to manage bears may have better safeguards for the Yellowstone grizzly population (as one local wildlife manager in MT argued), as they are based on a more up-to-date understanding of the species' ecological needs (mid-2000s vs. 1993 data). Of course, very limited hunting may be allowed in the long run under state management, which is unacceptable to some and thus they fight to keep the species listed.

As for the whitebark pine issue, grizzly bears are not likely to suffer serious negative consequences due to the decline; they are adaptive and only select individuals in certain years use WBP seeds extensively (this is one food source of dozens available). The grizzly population has even grown (see OPs link) as WBP declines extensively across the GYE ecosystem over the last two decades. Nevertheless, I am concerned about the WBP decline, but for the sake of the tree species itself and a few other species that regularly use this subalpine habitat. The triple whammy of pine beetle, blister rust, and climate change may spell the end of WBP stands as we know them. The species may even deserve listing itself, if its not precluded by other efforts (ironically, for example, GYE grizzly bears...).

Sorry for the rant...

<Off soapbox>
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Re: Yellowstone Grizzly populations on the rise

Postby Arthur Digbee » Fri Oct 29, 2010 12:35 pm

I agree, peakhugger. A bunch of groups are now touting their "success" in keeping Yellowstone wolves on the list for example. It's true there are some weird twists in the wolf case--FWS proposed using state boundaries to define populations, but those are not biological boundaries. (On the other hand, those political boundaries have obvious biological effects.)

On grizzlies -- yeah, WBP is only important for certain populations of grizzlies. Of course one of those populations, in Yellowstone, is iconic. Using the watch list instead of threatened/endangered is probably a more realistic response.

The problem here is that environmental groups can use wolves (especially) to recruit members and solicit contributions for their other activities. At Defenders of Wildlife, for example, wolf lawsuits bring in the cash for wolverines, lynx, and black-footed ferrets. I don't know how to educate the public otherwise.

To the OP: thanks for the posting. We've discussed elsewhere on the site this year's bumper crop of Yellowstone bears and bear attacks. Sounds as if next year may be similar.
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Re: Yellowstone Grizzly populations on the rise

Postby jspeigl » Fri Oct 29, 2010 2:38 pm

The article says there are at least 603 bears in Yellowstone. This doesn't seem like enough to get excited about.
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Re: Yellowstone Grizzly populations on the rise

Postby Doublecabin » Fri Oct 29, 2010 3:54 pm

Wow. My family has an outfitting and elk hunting business and even though I believe in more agressive management of wolves than most people outside the GYE I believe in the wait and see approach for Grizzlies because of the Whitebark issue. With all due respect LOTS of grizzlies rely on whitebark pines along with Army Cutworm Moths as their far and away largest sources of protein. We see lots of them in whitebarks in August and turning over talus for moths above the krumholz in September. I have no idea where you get this "select" stuff from. I say if there is not a significant die off in five years then delisting should go forward. Of course we all know delisitng would mean extremely limited and probably targeted hunting if any hunting at all for some time. So I respectfully disagree with you Peakhugger.

jspiegl,

You'll note an admission in the AP article that the estimate is probably quite low. Nonetheless Greater Yellowstone is not an infinite habitat and bear numbers are INCREDIBLY high now. So much so that blackies in our area were forced into being diaurnal in large numbers and feed on our gooseberrries in full view of guests right out their cabin windows this past summer. That has NEVER happened before as far as I know. Although the grizzly population grew DOZENS of bears paid the ultimate price because of increased encounters with humans due largely to overcrowded territories. Grizzlies are being seen well away from Front Ranges and although the Grizzly was once a plains animal we of course live in a dramatically different world now.
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Re: Yellowstone Grizzly populations on the rise

Postby peakhugger » Fri Oct 29, 2010 6:37 pm

Doublecabin wrote: I have no idea where you get this "select" stuff from.


I used the word select after hearing it in a talk by Chris Servheen and other references and writings of his in popular and scientific literature. edit: Chris was probably referring to all lower 48 griz, and I didn't catch that detail

The use of the word "select" is probably not appropriate, as this article shows. In bumper years, about 2/3 of grizzlies in the GYE get about half their protein from WBP seeds. In poor pine nut years, nearly 3/4 of bears use them very minimally, if at all (but 1/4 still do use them to some degree). I stand corrected.
Last edited by peakhugger on Fri Oct 29, 2010 9:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Yellowstone Grizzly populations on the rise

Postby Bill Reed » Fri Oct 29, 2010 8:01 pm

Posted it as an FYI for those planning travels into GYE locales that in recent years have seen little or no grizzly presence, like the Wind River Range.
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Re: Yellowstone Grizzly populations on the rise

Postby peakhugger » Fri Oct 29, 2010 10:11 pm

Bill Reed wrote:Posted it as an FYI for those planning travels into GYE locales that in recent years have seen little or no grizzly presence, like the Wind River Range.


Yeah, sorry to blow this out of proportion...

One final comment to follow up on jspiegl's comment about 603 bears not sounding like a lot:
There's some evidence that the bears are approaching their carrying capacity, at least within YNP, as Doublecabin spoke of.
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