Northern Continental Divide grizzlies ready for de-listing, but - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Northern Continental Divide grizzlies ready for de-listing, but no move to do so

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MISSOULA - Biologists tell a University of Montana audience there are enough grizzly bears now to take them off the list of threatened species, but they say there’s no formal move to do so.

That assessment came Tuesday as the University of Montana hosted a panel discussion about the future of the Northern Rockies grizzlies. Now that bears are “de-listed” in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, attention has turned to the grizzlies in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, including the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex and Glacier National Park.

And with estimates of more than 1,000 bears in the NCDE, there’s anticipation, but no formal proposal to remove their protection.

“And the NCDE population is recovered. They both met their recovery goals and the Yellowstone population was de-listed in 2017," said Bear Recovery Specialist Dr. Chris Servheen. "There is no proposal yet to de-list the NCDE population. So that process hasn’t even started yet.”

And the numbers are encouraging. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks researchers say 95-percent of the sow grizzlies are surviving now, and deaths caused by confrontations between bears and people, are well within limits. 

And the agency says the success is due in large part to people changing old habitats.

“We were just kind of irresponsible with the population," said Research Wildlife Biologist Cecily Costello. "And people didn’t really have to think about what they did in the backcountry. They didn’t have to think about keeping their food put away. They didn’t have to think about whether or not that ended up making a bear food conditioned or bringing about its mortality.”

Costello says FWP has plenty of experience to take over grizzly management if the Northern Continental Divide bears are de-listed in the future.

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