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Montana summit works to improve grizzly bear awareness, education

Posted at 10:33 AM, Jan 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-31 12:33:35-05

HELENA — A two-day Grizzly Bear Education and Outreach Summit wrapped up on Thursday.

The meeting included wildlife experts, educators, nonprofits and other vested parties who took a look at what’s currently being done for grizzly education.

“The goal was to talk about what we do, how we can be more effective, can we be more efficient and ultimately how do we work better together to deliver the information we need to build more grizzly bear awareness,” Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Greg Lemon said.

More than 1,800 grizzly bears are estimated to currently live in the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide ecosystems. Grizzly numbers are increasing in Montana, which means there will be more conflicts with the animals moving forward. Lemon said education can help limit those conflicts.

“Bear distribution and bear density is increasing in Montana and today anywhere in the western half of the state people need to be aware that they’re in grizzly bear country,” noted Lemon.

He added the summit also showed the need for creating a clearinghouse of information about grizzly bears in one place that everyone can use. That database will most likely be headed up by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC).

The IGBC was formed in 1983 to help ensure recovery of viable grizzly bear populations and their habitat through interagency coordination of policy, planning, management, and research.

“One of the things we really got out of the summit is the value of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee,” said Lemon. “They have a very active subcommittee for information, education and outreach. We learned what as groups and agencies what can do to help that subcommittee and what we can work harder on.”

More than 100 people attended the summit, which was made possible by the Montana Outdoor Legacy Foundation and Defenders of Wildlife.