MTPR

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Divers with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Montana FWP prepare to dive at Tiber Dam to look for adult zebra and/or quagga mussels, August 7, 2017.
Beth Saboe - MontanaPBS

Scuba divers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have spent the past three days in north-central Montana, scouring the waters of Tiber Dam for any signs of aquatic invasive mussels.

Last October, a juvenile mussel was found in a water sample from Tiber Reservoir by the Bureau of Reclamation, and suspicious samples were discovered in Canyon Ferry Reservoir, near Townsend. Since then, the state has ramped up its efforts to stave off a potentially destructive infestation of non-native quaqqa and zebra mussels.

The Greater Yellowstone grizzly bear was officially removed from the threatened species list on Monday.

The Interior Department stripped federal protections for grizzly bears living near Yellowstone National Park and they will now be managed by state and tribal agencies in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.

Yellowstone Grizzlies Removed From Threatened Species List

Jul 31, 2017
More than a month after announcing grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are no longer threatened, the USFWS officially handed over management of the approximately 700 bears to wildlife officials in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.
(PD)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. government lifted protections for grizzly bears in the Yellowstone region on Monday, though it will be up to the courts to decide whether the revered and fearsome icon of the West stays off the threatened species list.

More than a month after announcing grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are no longer threatened, the USFWS officially handed over management of the approximately 700 bears to wildlife officials in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.
(PD)

Several lawsuits were filed Friday against the U.S. government's decision to lift protections for grizzly bears in the Yellowstone National Park area. Some of the groups involved include the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, The Humane Society and Earthjustice.
 
Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso says there’s been a recent spike in local grizzly bear deaths.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to turn over grizzly bear management to Montana, Idaho and Wyoming by late July. The states plan to allow limited bear hunts outside park boundaries.
Flickr user Nathan Rupert (CC-BY-NC-ND-2)

The Interior Department Thursday said it will lift Endangered Species Act protections for grizzly bears in the Yellowstone National Park region.

Those protections have been in place for more than 40 years.

For the first time in more than four decades, the Yellowstone grizzly bear is set to lose its federal protections under the Endangered Species Act. Citing a rebound in the bear's population, the U.S. Department of Interior announced its intention Thursday to end these protections and return oversight of the animal's status to the state level.

The agency says the rule to remove the grizzly from the endangered species list will be published "in coming days" and "will take effect 30 days after publication."

Livestock carcass composting site outside Wisdom, MT.
Courtesy of the Big Hole Watershed Committee

Livestock death is part of ranching. At some point, ranchers have to deal with dead animals, from things like difficult births, disease, and weather extremes. And in southwest Montana, those dead animals can also attract unwelcome visitors — wolves and black bears looking for an easy meal.

The Service is drafting comprehensive conservation plans, or CCPs, and accompanying environmental analyses for two areas: one for the National Bison Range, and a separate CCP for the rest of the units within the refuge complex.
Mike Albans

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was in Polson and Kalispell this week, seeking public input on a pair of management plans for wildlife refuges in northwest Montana.

Bison and the National Bison Range.
Josh Burnham-cc-by-2.0

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is hosting two public meetings tonight and tomorrow night about planning efforts for the National Bison Range.

State and federal wildlife officials are investigating the shooting death of a male grizzly bear west of Whitefish.
PD

State and federal wildlife officials are investigating the shooting death of a male grizzly bear west of Whitefish.

Investigators with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks say the 4-year-old bear’s body was dumped over the Farm to Market Road bridge and into the Stillwater River sometime between May 25 and 28. It was then found downstream by recreationalists and retrieved by officials last Sunday.

Grizzly bears in the NCDE  have been roaming far east of the Rocky Mountains following drainages, streams and food into the tan waves of farmland stretching out from the forest edges of the Rocky Mountain Front.
Josh Burnham

State and federal wildlife officials are investigating the death of a grizzly bear east of Missoula near Bonner.

“This is an active, ongoing investigation and the service will share more information with the public when the circumstances of the case permit,” says Ryan Moehring, a public affairs specialist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is updating the bison range’s comprehensive conservation plan and accompanying environmental impact statement.
(PD)

Two federal scoping meetings are scheduled to help shape future management options for the National Bison Range at Moiese. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is updating the bison range’s comprehensive conservation plan and accompanying environmental impact statement. 

An informational sign at the entrance of the National Bison Range.
Josh Burnham

One month after pulling a proposal to transfer management of the National Bison Range to the tribes of the Flathead Reservation, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke yesterday made it official: Management will remain in the federal government’s hands.

The M-44 consists of a capsule holder, a cyanide capsule, a spring-activated ejector, and a stake.
U.S. Department of Agriculture

Environmental and animal welfare groups are suing the federal government over its use of two widely used predator-killing poisons. Compound 1080 and M-44s, are effective tools to kill coyotes and other native carnivores.

Bethany Cotton says that’s part of the problem; they’re too effective:

Several hundred friends, family and Forest Service personnel attended the funeral of a man killed after surprising a bear on June 29.
Nicky Ouellet

A new report details the final moments of a career Flathead National Forest law enforcement officer killed last summer after a chance encounter with a grizzly bear.

Threshold Episode 05: Heirs To The Most Glorious Heritage

Mar 2, 2017
Rob McDonald and Rich Janssen of the CSKT.
Amy Martin

In 1908, the National Bison Range was created by carving 18,000 acres out of Montana's Flathead Reservation. Now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it is willing to transfer the land back to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. But, a lawsuit has been filed to stop the proposed transfer. In this episode we meet tribal members who feel they are the rightful stewards of the land and the historic bison herd, and others who are trying to stop the transfer.

Bison and the National Bison Range.
Josh Burnham-cc-by-2.0

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced it’s assessing future management plans for the National Bison Range, including transferring control to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT).

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service is seeking comment on whether fishers deserve ESA protection.
(PD)

The Fish and Wildlife Service is revisiting whether fishers warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act.

On Friday the Service announced it is seeking comment on the status of the fisher - a member of the weasel family - in its distinct northern Rocky Mountain population for potential listing as a threatened or endangered species.

More than a month after announcing grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are no longer threatened, the USFWS officially handed over management of the approximately 700 bears to wildlife officials in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.
(PD)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has pushed back its target date for a formal decision on whether to take Yellowstone-area grizzly bears off of the endangered species list. Last year the agency said it hoped to issue that decision by the end of 2016. Now it’s saying July is more likely.

Rep. Ryan Zinke is rumored to be President-elect Trump's nominee for secretary of the Interior.
Eric Whitney

The news that Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke is apparently President-elect Trump’s nominee for secretary of the Interior is still reverberating across the country and in Montana. For perspective, we’re now joined by Rob Saldin, a political science professor at the University of Montana, and analyst for MTPR. I asked him for his initial impression of the news:

Leaders of the state and federal agencies involved in managing grizzly bears are meeting in Missoula Tuesday and Wednesday.
(PD)

Leaders of the state and federal agencies involved in managing grizzly bears are meeting in Missoula Tuesday and Wednesday.

Members of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) convene twice a year to coordinate policy, planning, management and research in the states where grizzlies live. Their goal is to recover local populations so that eventually the bears can be moved off of the endangered species list.

Excerpt From STORIES FROM AFIELD, by Bruce Smith

Nov 30, 2016
Bison Books, University of Nebraska Press

Chapter 14:  The Circle

It’s a universal truth that much of what we see around us follows a circle. Considered the father of modern observational astronomy, Galileo had it right: our planet does not hover motionless at the center of the universe, it orbits the sun. Chris Columbus didn’t fall off the edge of the Earth when he set sail from Spain seeking a new trade route to the East Indies. Whether it be moon phases, tidal patterns, or the annual changing of the seasons, recurrence is the norm. Examples are endless. No clearer is this principle than in nature’s rhythm of renewal and continuance — the water and nitrogen cycles, the ten-year cycle of snowshoe hare abundance, and life’s circle of birth, death, decomposition, and rebirth.

Officials Move Closer To Delisting Yellowstone Grizzlies

Nov 17, 2016
Grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Wildlife officials have moved one step closer to removing the Yellowstone grizzly population from the Endangered Species Act by approving a future conservation strategy.

Grizzly bear at Swan Lake Flats in Yellowstone National Park.
Jim Peaco (PD)

State wildlife officials believe a grizzly bear is responsible for an attack on a man outside Whitefish yesterday evening. The man was walking with his adult daughter and two dogs on F.H. Stoltze property in the Haskill Basin area when they unknowingly separated a sow from her two cubs.

Voters this November will decide the future of traps and snares on Montana’s public lands. A proposal to end commercial and recreational trapping on Montana’s public lands will appear on November’s ballot.
Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks

This November, Montanans will vote to decide the future of a long-standing Montana tradition: trapping on public lands.

Ballot initiative I-177 would ban commercial and recreational trapping on public lands, which make up about a third of Montana. Trapping would still be legal on private lands, and the initiative would allow Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to trap nuisance or diseased animals on public lands. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to turn over grizzly bear management to Montana, Idaho and Wyoming by late July. The states plan to allow limited bear hunts outside park boundaries.
Flickr user Nathan Rupert (CC-BY-NC-ND-2)

Federal and tribal wildlife agencies are offering a $4,000 reward for information about the illegal shooting of a female grizzly bear north of St. Ignatius. The bear was discovered mortally wounded by a shotgun blast two weeks ago by Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes biologists.

The western glacier stonefly is one of the stonefly species proposed for ESA protection.
USGS

Melting glaciers and snowfields are bad news for two types of stoneflies found in Montana. Today federal officials proposed Endangered Species Act protections for the insects at risk of a changing climate.

An informational sign at the entrance of the National Bison Range.
Josh Burnham

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Friday said they’ve modified their proposal to take over management of the National Bison Range.

The tribes released draft federal legislation in June that would transfer management of the range to them from the agency that’s in control now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A federal judge in Montana ruled today that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to consider including critical habitat areas in a plan to protect the endangered Canada lynx.
Keith Williams (CC-BY-2.0)

A federal judge in Montana ruled today that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to consider including critical habitat areas in a plan to protect the threatened Canada lynx.

The elusive forest-dwelling lynx was put under Endangered Species Act protection in 2000.

A billboard spotted in Cody, WY on June 26, 2016 says "Yellowstone's grizzlies are not trophies."
Eric Whitney

A second public comment period on the proposal to remove Yellowstone-area grizzly bears from the endangered species list is now open.

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