Article: Grizzly bear death rates on the rise

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Article: Grizzly bear death rates on the rise

Postby paul » Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:02 pm

The article references bear deaths along the railroad tracks near Glacier National Park. I never knew the death rates were that high.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/10/science/grizzly-bears-deaths.html
Last edited by paul on Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Article: Grizzly bear death rates on the rise

Postby PeteE » Fri Feb 14, 2020 5:11 pm

That's old news. A similar story was local news a year or more in the past.
The NYTimes must have been hard up for a story. 8)

It shouldn't be a surprise if you think about it.

The grizzly bear population has been increasing for years due to being a protected species.
So more bears in the same space of GNP.

And as the population grows, the "new" bears MUST find new territory somewhere.
That means outside the park for more and more bears--especially to the south into the wilderness territory.
Plus bears to the south will migrate north--across the tracks--from the Bob Marshall Wilderness complex.

Some will migrate north into Canada. East of the park is not the best habitat with people and ranching--not very bear friendly.
West of the park isn't very good for the bears either.

Then there is the increase in the number of trains passing by the park. More spillage of grain and other potential food items.
Many more animals other than bears getting killed. So more bear "attractants" along the tracks.
More bears and more trains per day/month/year results in more bears being hit.

I believe it's as simple as that.

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Re: Article: Grizzly bear death rates on the rise

Postby dpratt » Mon Feb 17, 2020 9:39 am

PeteE wrote:East of the park is not the best habitat with people and ranching--not very bear friendly.


Very true, but they are spending more and more time east of the divide. I follow Montana FW&P's "Prairie Bear Monitor" program and there are grizzly sightings far from public lands weekly, if not daily at times. Some have been sighted all the way out to Great Falls and beyond. They are starting to make their way back to their historical range. Back in the day, grizzlies were typically found in the plains, not in rugged, mountainous terrain like they are now. It will be interesting to see how tolerant people are of bears moving back into these areas. The big issue is grain spills around ranches, just like on railroad tracks, that bring them in. Lots of calories to be had. Kudos to FW&P for staying on top of it and working with the locals to mitigate attractants.
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Re: Article: Grizzly bear death rates on the rise

Postby PeteE » Mon Feb 17, 2020 10:12 am

dpratt wrote:
PeteE wrote:East of the park is not the best habitat with people and ranching--not very bear friendly.


Very true, but they are spending more and more time east of the divide. I follow Montana FW&P's "Prairie Bear Monitor" program and there are grizzly sightings far from public lands weekly, if not daily at times. Some have been sighted all the way out to Great Falls and beyond. They are starting to make their way back to their historical range. Back in the day, grizzlies were typically found in the plains, not in rugged, mountainous terrain like they are now. It will be interesting to see how tolerant people are of bears moving back into these areas. The big issue is grain spills around ranches, just like on railroad tracks, that bring them in. Lots of calories to be had. Kudos to FW&P for staying on top of it and working with the locals to mitigate attractants.


Hey Doug:

I don't disagree with any of that. I may have overstated the "poorness" of the habitat on the east side. And I'm well aware of the bears migrating out to the plains. I've also talked to east side residents who aren't completely happy with how the bears are being "managed" over there.
The "locals" don't always agree with how "problem" bears are handled. And there is disagreement at times between USFW folks and Montana FWP bear managers. This is what I've been told by people I know who live in East Glacier/Browning/St Mary and Babb. That's their opinion of course.

However, you have to admit that the plains habitat is NOT the same as it was in the early 19th century. The bears back then had no natural enemies and had millions of bison and other prairie animals to hunt along with the natural sedges, grasses, etc.

The bears are migrating out of the park and the wilderness areas in ALL directions because they have no where else to go.
The grizzly bear recovery program(s) have been a success.

That's why we should expect more human/bear conflict, part of that being more bears killed by cars, trains, and poached or killed by ranchers and farmers. The trains are just one hazard for the bears moving south.

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Re: Article: Grizzly bear death rates on the rise

Postby Fairbanks142 » Fri Feb 28, 2020 6:50 pm

Paul,thanks for posting this. Interesting read, and good to read Mr. Pratt's and Pete's comments. Pete, I know you know this, but when you say that in the early 19th century that bears had no natural enemies....there were some seriously skilled bear hunters (humans) here in the early 19th century. I'm sure your point was that it wasn't nearly at the same scale as it is today. But bears were hunted here, big time, in the early 19th century.
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Re: Article: Grizzly bear death rates on the rise

Postby PeteE » Sat Feb 29, 2020 10:16 am

Fairbanks142 wrote:Paul,thanks for posting this. Interesting read, and good to read Mr. Pratt's and Pete's comments. Pete, I know you know this, but when you say that in the early 19th century that bears had no natural enemies....there were some seriously skilled bear hunters (humans) here in the early 19th century. I'm sure your point was that it wasn't nearly at the same scale as it is today. But bears were hunted here, big time, in the early 19th century.


Yes, you're right about the human predators.
I should have said that the bears, being apex predators, had/have few natural enemies.
Wolves were probably the only other animal predators that went after grizzly bears.

I would say that while Native Americans killed some grizzly bears, I doubt they had a big impact on the overall population of the "great bears".
The Native Americans were pretty good stewards of the land--in my opinion. They killed what they needed for food and to survive.
At least that's how *I* read history growing up. 8)

A side note: I find it very sad that kids growing up in the last , say 20 years, read very little history. In fact many don't read books AT ALL.

The grizzly bear population didn't take a big hit until us white folks came on the scene in the middle and latter part of the 1800's. THEN, the bears were killed in much larger numbers as the settlers, farmers, and ranchers killed off as many of the large predators as they could--bears, lions and wolves.
They saw the big predators as a threat to livestock and their way of life.

And we're all aware of the mass slaughter of the bison herds along with the large predators, even the smaller ones.
That's when the bears moved into the more mountainous areas to escape "man".

I'm glad to see the bears and wolves making a come back. Both are truly amazing animals. Seeing them is a real thrill.

pete :wink:
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Re: Article: Grizzly bear death rates on the rise

Postby dpratt » Sat Feb 29, 2020 5:38 pm

PeteE wrote:I'm glad to see the bears and wolves making a come back. Both are truly amazing animals. Seeing them is a real thrill.pete :wink:


I'm with you on this. I find it odd how many people in this area hate wolves with an absolute passion. I personally love when I find their sign in the area around our house, as well as hear them howl. Some people feel the same way about grizzlies. I personally love the fact that this area has most of the animals that were here 100's of years ago. It reminds me why I moved to this area to begin with.
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Re: Article: Grizzly bear death rates on the rise

Postby PeteE » Tue Mar 03, 2020 8:09 pm

dpratt wrote:I'm with you on this. I find it odd how many people in this area hate wolves with an absolute passion. I personally love when I find their sign in the area around our house, as well as hear them howl. Some people feel the same way about grizzlies. I personally love the fact that this area has most of the animals that were here 100's of years ago. It reminds me why I moved to this area to begin with.


Yeah boy! I agree with everything you said.
I just wanna smack the a-holes who have those "Smoke a pack a day" bumper stickers! :evil:

I'll never forget the first wolf I saw after I moved here. He/she? was a big black wolf with just a little white on its brisket.
I was spring bowhunting near Olney 2003.
The wolf came up out of a brushey clear cut about 20 yards in front of me. He paused on the gated logging road and looked back at me with those golden eyes. He stood still for maybe 10-15 seconds staring directly at me with no sense of fear at all. Then he just trotted on across the road and disappeared in the woods. I wasn't sure I had seen a wolf until I looked at his tracks in the snow.
They were about the size of my hand :shock:
I knew for sure right then that it weren't no coyote!! 8)

I've seen and been close to many black bears, but...
For me, there's nothing like seeing a grizzly bear close up--close being different for different folks.
Or two of them like this sow behind her "cub"--both near 300lbs in late September 2015 8)
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