Friday, June 18, 2010

Montana to trap grizzlies on prairie

Northwest Montana grizzlies — which number about 800, the largest population in the Lower 48 — are a federally protected "threatened" species. But bears on the eastern front of the Rocky Mountains, which are part of the larger ecosystem, aren't waiting to be delisted to establish new home ranges on the prairie — more than 100 miles east of the core population. The two young grizzlies that have been eating Danreuther's grain first showed up at Floweree on June 7, near the Missouri River, where they haven't been seen in a century. They have since retreated to the Teton River, which the bears followed to get to the prairie. Now they are thought to be moving between the ranches of Danreuther and his neighbors, the Reichelts, who live 35 miles northeast of Great Falls on the Teton. "It's kind of unnerving," Danreuther said. It's the second time in two years that young grizzlies have made marathon journeys from the mountainous Front to the rolling plains of Chouteau County. Last summer, a lone grizzly traveled 177 miles along the river, reaching Loma. "We're all on a learning curve," said Mike Madel, a grizzly bear management specialist with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. On Saturday, one or both of the bears pushed in a window on a shed in the farm yard of the Reichelts to get at pig feed. That's why FWP made the decision to capture and relocate the bears back on the Front, Madel said...more

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