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Montanans living along the winding Teton River, well east of the Rocky Mountain Front were quick to notice their new neighbor this summer. As early as the beginning of July, ranchers and other landowners along the prairie began intermittently spotting a solitary grizzly bear journeying east away from the mountains. Residents of the rural grasslands, including Mike Madel, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park’s Region 4 Grizzly Bear Management Specialist based in Choteau, were even more surprised in mid-July when members of a local ranching family captured photographs of the lone bear on their land along the Teton north of Fort Benton, ambling through open prairie nearly 100 miles from the mountains, where Ursus arctos horribilis is expected these days. For Madel and other bear managers in the state, the bear’s arrival so far beyond the range of today’s grizzlies and into historic habitat was a revelation – and one that would be the first of many throughout the summer and fall. Madel, a 23-year veteran of working with grizzlies along the Front, called 2009 an “unprecedented” year for bears wandering back on to the prairie, and says the bears' presence there is only likely to increase in coming years. That means an entire population of humans will now have to learn how to cohabitate with grizzlies. While the plains are historically grizzly country, for many living there now, the return of the grizzly is – to put it lightly – a surprise.

Grizzlies On the Move, Back to the Wide-Open Prairie

Montanans living along the winding Teton River, well east of the Rocky Mountain Front were quick to notice their new neighbor this summer. As early as the beginning of July, ranchers and other landowners along the prairie began intermittently spotting a solitary grizzly bear journeying east, away from the mountains.

Residents of the rural grasslands, including Mike Madel, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park’s Region 4 Grizzly Bear Management Specialist based in Choteau, were even more surprised in mid-July when members of a local ranching family captured photographs of the lone bear on their land along the Teton north of Fort Benton, ambling through open prairie nearly 100 miles from the mountains, where Ursus arctos horribilis is expected these days.

For Madel and other bear managers in the state, the bear’s arrival so far beyond the range of today’s grizzlies and into historic habitat was a revelation – and one that would be the first of many throughout the summer and fall.

Madel, a 23-year veteran of working with grizzlies along the Front, called 2009 an “unprecedented” year for bears wandering back on to the prairie, and says the bears’ presence there is only likely to increase in coming years.

That means an entire population of humans will now have to learn how to cohabitate with grizzlies. While the plains are historically grizzly country, for many living there now, the return of the grizzly is – to put it lightly – a surprise.

Karla Ayers, whose daughter Elizabeth snapped the now-famous shots of what turned out to be a young male grizzly near Fort Benton, said ranchers and other residents living on the high plains just aren’t accustomed to having grizzlies in their midst. She said it’s not like on the Rocky Mountain Front, where people have been living with bears now for years.

“Our mindset is just not ready to deal with bears,” she said.

That plains residents aren’t yet ready to live with bears could be reflected in the increase in human-caused grizzly deaths this year. So far in 2009, the deaths of 10 of the great bears have been confirmed in Madel’s region, with eight of those attributed to humans.

“It’s certainly the highest on record,” Madel said.

In one high-profile case, officials are now offering $11,000 for information leading to the arrest of whoever poached a famous 800-pound grizzly nicknamed “Maximus” near Dupuyer in August.

The historic range of the opportunistic grizzly bear once stretched from the Pacific Ocean to the Great Plains and from the high Arctic well into present-day Mexico. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that up to 50,000 grizzlies occupied the area south of present-day Canada when Lewis and Clark journeyed across the continent. Today, the population in the lower 48 states covers just two percent of its former range and only numbers between 1,200- to 1,400-strong. Though settlement pushed grizzlies off the prairies earlier than just about anywhere else, bear experts say the wide-open landscape once provided them with some of the richest habitat anywhere.

Now, they’re apparently in search of that habitat once again. Nearly as surprising as the bear the Ayers family spotted north of Fort Benton was the sow grizzly and three cubs spotted by a rancher in October feeding on a cow carcass well out on the plains near the community of Simms. Madel also investigated this sighting and says the grizzly foursome didn’t kill the cow. He believes the bears used the Sun River as a safe travel corridor from the mountains to the plains.

Also this summer, bird hunters spotted another grizzly south of Tiber Dam, which is north of Great Falls and well east of Interstate 15.

Madel speculates that the bear found near Fort Benton was likely sticking close to the Teton River, which flows down in a canyon beneath rolling prairie uplands along much of its length.

Had the grizzly kept to itself and out of trouble after leaving the Ayers ranch along the Teton, it very well may have kept traveling east. But that was not to be. Not long after the Fort Benton sighting, the bear arrived at another sheep ranch about 11-miles downstream near Loma, a small outpost on the plains northeast of Great Falls. There, the bear killed a sheep, officials say, spelling the end of its noteworthy jaunt.

After its capture by a federal Wildlife Services agent, Madel was called into tranquilize and transport the 238-pound yearling male back to a remote spot west of the Continental Divide in the mountains near Marias Pass.

One of the many remarkable aspects of the young bear’s journey is just how close it came to reaching the Missouri River. Had it ignored temptation near Loma, it would have only had to journey another mile to reach the mighty river. Madel believes that could have been the last people saw of the wandering bear for a very long time.

Below Loma, the Missouri enters a lengthy stretch of increasingly remote country that extends clear out into the Missouri River Breaks and the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. The area’s large cottonwood stands and dense riparian vegetation could easily hide a wandering bear. Miles of wild and winding side canyons on both sides of the river further isolate this remote land.

It used to be excellent grizzly bear habitat and could be again, Madel said. “A bear could get lost out there and establish a home range and survive,” he said.

Madel says stories like that of the Loma bear are likely to get more familiar. Grizzly bear managers have seen an increase in the number of grizzly sows with young expanding their range farther out on the plains, an almost sure sign the great bear is establishing a toehold. Madel said young grizzlies that learn from their mothers that the prairies offer abundant food sources like buffalo berry and chokecherry are far more apt to continue living in these spots.

“It’s more about learned behavior,” he said. “We’re going to see that more and more.”

The movement by grizzlies on the plains isn’t an entirely new occurrence, said Chris Servheen, grizzly bear recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. From his office at the University of Montana in Missoula, Servheen said the bears have been reoccupying these old haunts for the past several decades. He said more tolerant attitudes on the part of ranchers and other local residents on the Front has allowed the population of grizzlies occupying the high plains just east of the mountains to increase from nearly none just several decades ago to perhaps as many as 70 to 80 today. “Thirty or forty years ago the bears were persecuted when they came out of the mountains,” he said.

Whether people living in these potential new grizzly ranges farther away from the Front become similarly accustomed to living with the bears will remain to be seen.

Servheen said the federal government’s grizzly recovery program has helped improve mortality control and habitat management issues along the Front. “We’ve tried to build tolerance with the people that live, work and recreate with bears,” he explained. “Those things together result in fewer mortalities, which results in more cub production and more bears.”

For some time, Servheen has been saying he can foresee the day when bears will reach the Missouri, which nearly occurred this summer. Now, he says he can envision a day when the area’s more remote sections may even provide permanent habitat for a handful of bears. “The Missouri Breaks might offer some good potential for grizzly bears,” he said.

Officials say the presence of so many bears on the plains means that activities like hunting in thick shrub fields may be something that’s best to avoid from now on. Plains grizzlies use these habitats as places to bed down during the daylight hours. Just this fall, a pheasant hunter from Alaska got the surprise of his life when he jumped a grizzly sow and her cubs in a thick mosaic of buffalo berry, cottonwoods and interspersed meadow north of Choteau called the Eldorado Grove. The hunter killed the charging grizzly with the third and final shot from his shotgun. Bear managers say the death of the bear may have been avoided had the hunter been carrying nonlethal pepper spray.

Madel, a firm believer in the value of carrying bear spray, has successfully retarded bear charges three times in his line of work. The broad cloud the spray lays down is a very effective deterrent, even during erratic wind, he said. “Carry bear spray on your belt at all times,” he advises.

Servheen believes the bears showing up on the prairie are responding more to the presence of excellent habitat rather than simply being pushed out of Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall wilderness complex because those area’s grizzly bear capacity has been reached. “We don’t know if the population is at carrying capacity,” he said.

A recent hair-snaring study in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem indicated the presence of approximately 765 grizzlies. And this growing population of bears isn’t just spreading out onto the plains, Servheen said. “We do know that the population is large and that it is expanding its range because we see bears in more and more places,” he said. “Not just on the Front, but to the south and to the west.”

Grizzlies leaving the southern end of the Bob Marshall country are beginning to show up on the south side of U.S. Interstate 90 near places like Drummond, Anaconda, Phillipsburg and in Rock Creek. In 2005, a bear tied to the northern grizzly population was found dead from an arrow in the Mount Haggin Wildlife Management Area adjacent to the 158,615-acre Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness Area. Just last year, a young male grizzly was captured near Drummond after it raided an unprotected beehive.

These bears are the leading edge of what folks like Jamie Jonkel, Montana’s Region 2 Grizzly Bear Management Specialist, believe is the recolonization of much of western Montana by grizzlies. For now, it’s mostly males with a touch of wanderlust moving out.

“They’re slowly trying to recolonize former ranges,” said Jonkel, the son of noted bear researcher Chuck Jonkel of Missoula. “Soon we’ll start seeing a few females setting up shop.”

In Jonkel’s region, which covers notable areas in western Montana like the Bitterroot and Sapphire mountains and the Rattlesnake Wilderness above Missoula, the hotspot for grizzly activity is the rural Blackfoot-Clearwater valley on the southern end of the Bob Marshall country. Still, he has little doubt that at least a few grizzlies are living unseen in spots like Rock Creek and parts of the Clark Fork drainage.

“I would say there are a handful of bears south of Interstate 90 trying to eke out a living,” he said. “There’s some pretty good habitat down there for them.”

And as long as they stay out of trouble, Jonkel said, Montana officials have no intention of stopping these grizzlies from staking out new home ranges.

“We don’t treat them any differently than the bears up north,” he said. “Right now we’re telling people to expect bears pretty much anywhere in western Montana.”

There’s also evidence that a few grizzlies are occupying portions of the upper Rattlesnake Wilderness. Jonkel said they’ve found evidence along the crests of high alpine ridges in the Rattlesnake where something has been digging up biscuit root. He said that’s a behavior only grizzlies are known for.

Back out on the Front, the movements of bears on the plains is being aided by several decades of work by government agencies and private land trusts like The Nature Conservancy to secure valuable private lands as permanent open space.

This program is designed to make sure wide-ranging species like the unique plains grizzly continue to have room to roam years into the future. To date, The Nature Conservancy and its partners have preserved 146,039 acres of private ranch lands along the Front through conservation easements and outright purchases.

Dave Hanna, the Conservancy’s Rocky Mountain Front Science and Stewardship Director based in Choteau, said his organization is working to identify and preserve those places that provide the great bears with the cover and food sources they need to keep flourishing on the Front. “It’s the only place in the lower 48 where you still have bears using a grassland habitat and that’s a pretty special thing,” Hanna said.

Not long after Madel transported the Loma bear to the opposite side of the Continental Divide on the Flathead National Forest, the seasoned grizzly bear manager witnessed something that indicates just how attractive the plains habitat may still be for bears.

Madel got a call from one of his professional counterparts who’s responsible for managing bears on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation east of Glacier National Park. The bear manager had picked up a signal from the Loma bear. Soon after, he lost the bear’s signal farther east in the Marias River country, which has seen reports of grizzly activity trickle in during the past few years.

“He went north and east and got out into very open grassland habitat,” Madel said.

He said the bear likely ended up somewhere along the lower Marias River. “I assume he went farther and farther east,” Madel said.

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  1. Cool story!

  2. This is very cool!
    Now, let’s hope through education, cooperation and an understanding by both the wildlife side and the ranching side, tolerance and understanding can be reached and this can be a lasting success story.

  3. Great story, Jason. I once lived near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers just inside North Dakota, and in my rambles along the river bottoms there I used to imagine what it would be like to see grizzlies, elk and bighorn sheep on the prairies.

  4. Excellent story.

  5. I’m afraid that there are too many “range maggots” in eastern Montana to allow for the long term expansion and survival of both Grizzlies and Bighorns, unfortunately.

  6. Great story, Jason.

  7. nice article! Inspiring read.

  8. Great story. Lets hope those bears wandering south of I90 are doing well and are’nt poached. If only the Cabinets mtns grizzlies could get some real protection and exposure to their uphill battle.
    Rocky mtn front needs more tolerance and education and perhaps they’ll learn to live with the great bears. Now if only ID could learn a little Grizz tolerance. With all these griz dispersing might be a good idea to ensure them of some real habitat and travel corridors with NREPA. A lot of these habitats that the bears are dispering like around rock creek/sapphires are WSA’s that would be destroyed by tester’s logging bill. Check out a real analysis of tester’s bill.

  9. Hey Jason – Great to see you on NewWest. It’s a great site. Does this phenomena spill over into Idaho at all?

  10. Jason:

    A very cool story indeed. Thanks for writing this.

  11. The issue of proactive management of any and all Grizzlies known to be reclaiming former range in the low country is paramount to me.

    In Wyoming, where I live, the Wyoming Game and Fish has a defacto policy of keeping all Grizzlies inside the so-called Primary Conservation Zone that surrounds Yellowstone Park. It is a buffer zone made up mainly of rock and ice wilderness and some of the forest Multiple Use lands, but has jagged arbitrary map boundaries that exclude all private lands not an inholding.

    US Fish and Wildlife allows Wyo G & F to effectively keep grizzlies in the PCA, even though bears have shown great desire to expand south and east , into the Wyoming Range and southern Wind Rivers. Case in point: Near where I live in Cody , a radio collared 3-year old female Grizz was eradicated two weeks ago because she was in the riparian area along the Shoshone River between Cody and Powell, 14 miles from Heart Mountain and 30 miles from the Absaroka wilderness boundary. Unfortunately , this bear had a “history” of hanging around humans and had previously been trapped up near Clark and had been relocated a couple times. Even though she wasn’t being naughty, she was in among some farms. So Wyo G&F;killed her. Three Strikes Rule, I suppose.

    The point being, Wyoming game managers do not want Grizzlies to expand back into their former range or increase in numbers beyond some arbitrary target population , which they say has already been reached in Greater Yellowstone. They don’t want to allow bears in the Big Horns or Pryors, but there’s anecdotal evidence they are already going there if not staying there. Wyoming Game and Fish has chosen to keep the bears in a box, behind a line. They are ‘managing’ bears according to people’s wants, not the bear’s needs.

    This will probably be a nice field demonstration of B F Skinner’s ” Rats in a Box” case study , since the population of grizzlies in northwest Wyoming is most slowly but surely increasing, but the area they are allowed to roam freely is static, or even shrinking. Human caused bear mortalities are approaching 30 in Wyoming so far this year , with denning just now starting.

    Expansion of the Yellowstone Grizzly into its former range in increased numbers in Wyoming is not a politically viable proposition , regrettable. That needs to change.

    Wyoming folks are fairly paranoid schizophrenic about Griz. They al want to drive up into Yellowstone Park and see a bear and show their relatives, but if that same bear is outside the Park anywhere near a building or campground, they prefer it be dead and gone. That’s almost official state policy.

  12. Interesting comments. I think there is no doubt the loss of elk and competition with wolves has pushed the griz out into inhabited areas more and more. That coupled with a lot mroe bears than is admitted to is pushing the bears out further and further.
    There are at least 2 schools in wyoming and one in Montana with bear fences to keep the bears away from the little kids, is that what Chuck Feney is refering to as maggots, when folks don’t let the kids take their chances?
    I suspect like most things considered a potential problem, the further you live from it, the easier it is to deal with.

  13. Uh, Todd…there’s no “loss of Elk ” , and your theory of competing with wolves is just that. One of the more interesting observations this autumn was the appearance of large numbers of Elk down low , on fields in the Heart Mountain area ; folks driving out into the eastern McCullough Peaks to see wild horses, and seeing elk instead; the large number of elk that wintered east of the Cody-Meeteetse highway last winter along the Meeteetse Rim country; the elk herd that is doing very well along the Beartooth Front from Bald Ridge to Clark that also goes out into the Badlands in spite of having a couple wolfpacks right alongside it.

    And I might as well play my broken record again …elk numbers increased in Wyoming by nearly 10 percent last year ( actual G & F aerial census count) , and much of that increase occurred in areas loaded with wolves.

    Whatever is moving grizzlies down to the low country and away from the mountains , it’s not loss of elk and probably not serious displacement by wolves. They’re all dispersing , by the numbers.

    The Valley School and Wapiti School are prime examples of inappropriate developments in prime grizzly habitat, just like the subdivisions that surround the latter and the questionable need for the former.

    Finally , the land ” maggots” referred to are domestic sheep. That’s a popular euphemism , and accurate.

    P.S. I live one block off the downtown four lane Hwy that is Cody’s main street had 17 mule deer in the yard a couple nights ago.

  14. Dewey

    todd just likes to tie in his own ignorant, inaccurate views of public land managmemnt into any situation he can. In this case his hatred of wolves and his “perceived” loss of elk.

  15. If Chuck Feeney is so incensed by “range maggots” then I assume he eschews all wool and shearling clothing, including sweaters and blankets, I also assume he never enjoys a rack of lamb. If that is the case then he is not a hypocrite, but his life is so much the poorer for it.
    Grizzly bears will eat a sheep, maybe a few. Sheep producers will adapt one way or another. There is a lot of break and coulee country out there and in a generation or so of humans and maybe a few generation of bears maybe some method of co-habitation will emerge.

  16. Solid story, Jason. It’s so important to have journalists, like you, who can research such an important issue and deliver an unbiased report.

  17. Thanks for the info. For those who dwell in the mega urban areas of this country–as well as many rural areas–human crime is an ever growing issue. Given a choice, I would rather deal with the grizzley “problem”

  18. Ahhh, Monty, I suspect you would not be at all happy to have a confrontation with a griz.
    Anyone who thinks there is no loss of elk is not reading the reports from G&F;in northern Wyoming nor driving thru Yellowstone. The rut in Yellowstone was almost non existant this year. The calf retention in the aprk has ranged from 1-4 for some years now on the Madison, it is in the low teens in the Northern herd, and they dont’ pay any attention to the rest.

  19. todd

    g and f doesnt exist anymore its called fish and wildlife.
    Elk numbers were up in GYE this year. Grizzlies would not be the main or even a major source of their decline nor even your feared wolves; it is due to habitat loss specifically winter range loss around the park due to new developments etc.
    Encountering a Grizzly bear under the right circumstances could be one of the most prfound experiences one could have in the wilderness. In your case though todd you would probally start shooting it with your peashooter the second you caught a glimpse of it.

  20. That is pure male bovine feces! What in the world do you think those 1-2 thousand plus wolves eat? A glass of water and a tooth pick? The biggest herd loss percentage wise in Yellowstone is the Norris/Firehole herd, which has 0-4 calves surviving per year, the cows are down from a steady 500-650 elk as many years as they have been counted to 108 in 2007, many less now I am sure. That herd does not migrate out of the park, so you cannot blame it on anything but what it is….predators, namely wolves.

  21. Todd-

    Please cite some attribution or second sources for your assertions on those Yellowstone elk numbers , lack of rutting, and migration patterns , please.

    For your edification out here in the real world , in 2008 the Wolf population in Wyoming declined 19 percent outside the Park , and declined 27 percent inside Yellowstone. That is from the Fish & Wildlife’s annual wolf report.

  22. Now if the griz can just extend its historic range to Washington, DC, a few of our problems may be resolved.

  23. funny how people like todd never want to take responsibilty for their own negative impacts on wildlife.

  24. Chaos tamer, well said, now if we couold send them to K Street in DC there are enought nuts to fatten them to the size of Kodiak griz.
    Beargrass, exactly what impact of mine are you referring to?
    Dewey, I’ll get back to you with those links. I worry about my footprint and trim it, how about you?

  25. loss of elk winter range due to human develpment i.e. most every city, town not to mention the rocky mtn elk foundation’s missoula chapter building are all located in prime elk winter range. Sub-divisions being built around yellowstone, glacier and elsewhere. Humans are the main cause of the decline in historic elk numbers. You are just as resonsible as your dreaded wolf todd.

  26. Todd, in the last 50 years I have hiked in both Glacier & Yellowstone NP’s many, many times. And the grizzly & other mega predators is what keeps me going back to these special places. There are 3 special places left in the lower 48, Glacier/Bob Marshall, Yellowstone & Central Idaho where there is a measure of “wildness left” in part because of the predators. Remove the predators & what is left is The Adirondack State Park in New York.

  27. Monty, the land is not true wilderness if humans are hiking, and leaving human waste behind, so it might be good if you didn’t hike there. There is nothing “natural” about introduced, collared, tested, habituated wolves or other predators. Load some up and haul them to the Adriondacks and voila you have a wilderness, if that is all it takes.
    Wolves were naturally repopulating Yellowstone….but not fast enough for those that insist on controlling everything in the name of natural. Entirely too much power, too many “research” and environmental lawsuit court awards were at stake to let them repopulate “naturally”.

  28. Todd, you are splitting hairs. I used the term ” a measure of wildness”. I will take what I can get. And as I wrote, I will continue to hike, as long as my knees hold out, in those places that have the most predators. I live in westside Oregon, and hike 4 out of every 7 days in managed and wild native forests and enjoy both. When hiking in Oregon, I have to be satisfied with Black bears and cougars and when I go to Montana I will enjoy the grizzly and wolf. I also enjoy all of the other “parts” of the forest and land no matter how delicate and small, each and every part has intrinsic value. If I have future “conversations” w/you, I will leave out the part of wildness and just state that “I love big tooth critters”!!!

  29. While it is fine for you to visit big tooth critters the fact is they are running out of adequate prey species so they are choosing to dine at the local rancher’s place. The rancher is compensated for 10-12 percent of the loss according to Dr. David Mech….and that is loss of life of his animals, nothing for the weight lost by being run constantly.
    Now if you really want to enjoy the flavor of predators, try to buy a livestock operation in the heart of wolf and bear country, that will give you the true feeling of living with them not visiting.

  30. “…the land is not true wilderness if humans are hiking…”

  31. So, the visible and apparent die off of the whitebark pine trees isn’t a very good reason why bears are moving in search of food? There are only so many marmots in a range, and ground squirrel colonies. A finite number of elk and deer on which to feed. What you are really seeing is great success in grizzly reproduction and rearing of young. The result will be expansion of territory. The best will be taken, and the young will have to explore to find new places in which to live. This deal of great bears on the plains again is not about there being “pushed” out of anywhere. It is about an expanding population looking for new territories in which to make a living. The Joads of the Great Bears are on the move. Hopefully they make Cal—eee-forn–eee-ya. Before the wolves.

    Oregon Fish and Wildlife employees got great footage on tape of a ten wolf pack on the move last week. Say goodby to the moose that had moved into NE Oregon for the first time in two centuries. The 40-60 animal reproducing herd of moose now are sharing the countryside with at least three wolf packs, including the one with ten. Some think the moose moved across the Snake River to avoid wolves, which turn out to be the gift that keeps on giving. A few grizzlies would be a welcome addition. They would keep the riff raff on their toes.

    Another story in the Oregon papers is the evidence that there is a cattle rustling operation that would make the Rancho DeLuxe folks green with envy, operating in the ONI. An airplane saw a band of over 100 cow calf pairs being herded across the Big Empty by buckaroos who never looked up at the plane. They have been implicated in the loss of over 1200 head of cattle in the last couple of years. They are operating in the country Claude Dallas was holed up in when the Idaho game cops got the jump on him. My thinks the local ranchers wish Claude was still around, what with his sense of frontier justice and all. This rustling deal is going to come to an end with some sort of finality if only because it is going on in rawhide ranch country, where cowboys work with a wagon for six months at a time. Tough people and tough country, and both the buckaroos and the rustlers are making a tough living. And there ain’t no GPS units around the necks of rustlers. State cops in a half dozen western states need to be stopping livestock trucks and inspecting papers, and ownership of the cargo. Someone, somewhere, is buying hot beef on the cheap, and needs to be caught.

  32. Before the advent of the white man, many of the critters (Elk, Moose, Wolves, Griz, Black Bear, Puma etc.) we presently encounter only in mountainous terrain were actually thriving in abundance on the western plains from California to the Mississippi and beyond. So its not surprising that, left to their own devices, these critters would eventually repopulate their original range.

  33. It wasn’t the changing complections; so much as the increasing numbers, of [i]homo sapiens[/i] which drove so many species into the high back country, Sr. Garcia.

  34. Coincidentally it was changing complexions, numbers, and attitudes.

  35. I would hope that the law would read you can’t carry a weapon in grizz country without the big can of bear spray mounted on your being. If you have the right to carry a shooter, you correspondingly have the responsibility to pack magnum sized bear spray. The bears can mess up a NY modeling career, cause your body to leak vital fluids, break your bones, and just generally mess you up. I appears they are just “teaching” you a lesson, and if your body can’t take it, you are shit out of luck, but you are in their domain, on their terms, and they have no mutual defense alignments with anyone so it is defend all that is yours with all you have, and then run like hell. Besides, the cost of bear spray is now equal to a box of bullets, the bullets having risen in price by double. If you can afford the hunting license, the fuel, the bullets, missing work, you sure as hell can budget bear spray. Common sense needs to be in play. For the sake of bears and our being referees and minders in the ecological sense. No need to address climate issues if we can’t require bear spray when in bear country.