Public invited to hear from grizzly bear expert in Kalispell

Posted at 5:32 PM, Apr 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-02 19:32:10-04

KALISPELL – A few decades ago grizzly bears were on the brink of extinction but today not only are the animals back, but they’re being spotted in places they haven’t been seen them in for generations.

Northwest Montana is believed to have the largest population of grizzly bears in the lower 48 states. 

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Dillon Tabish saying the protection of grizzlies under the Endangered Species Act helped the population rebound today to around 1,000. At one point, he estimates there were just 100 of the animals left.

Tabish says through the hard work of biologists, wildlife managers and residents who changed their habits — whether by bear-proofing their food while camping or storing garbage in secure locations or using bear spray. 

He says all of those efforts — along with passionate people devoted to saving grizzlies came together to create what we’re in now, which is a recovered population.

But it’s been a long road to recovery and it’s still unknown exactly what the future holds for management of grizzlies. The recovery is one of the most amazing conservation success stories ever and folks have the opportunity to hear it from FWP Wildlife Biologist Rick Mace.

"Rick Mace is a longtime bear biologist for Fish Wildlife and Parks and Rick conducted a lot of…research on grizzly bears in Western Montana," Tabish said. 

"Rick is just an expert on grizzly bears — I would say one of the foremost experts in the country on grizzly bears. The Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation has him as one of their featured speakers during their Wilderness Lecture Series," Tabish added.

"The Recovery of Grizzly Bears in Montana" presentation will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Flathead Valley Community College. The event is free to the public thanks to partners like the Montana Wilderness Association, the Northwest Chapter of the Forest Fire Lookout Association.

Grizzly bears remain a protected species under the Endangered Species Act except in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem where they were recently delisted due to recovery.

State, federal and tribal agencies are currently putting together a conservation strategy for the possibility of the federal government delisting them in a larger area.