I'm not buying it!

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Posted by Ballpark Frank ( on 20:59:29 06/25/13

In Reply to: Have grizzlies rebounded? posted by Hoot


Thanks for posting the link. I read the article, and read the comments. As usual, there is a lot of emotion, and a fair amount of polarization.

I hate to say it, but the author needs to get out more in Yellowstone before he makes such bold assumptions. For those who read this, and are unfamiliar with my background, I will say that I have been watching grizzlies in Yellowstone since the late 1960s, but particularly starting in the early 1980s, when I made annual visits to the park, which included backpacking, day hiking, and horsepacking. Starting in 1988, I ratcheted up the visits to two or three times annually, and finally, in 1997, I just moved to Montana, so I could be close enough to visit the park on a daily basis, whenever I wasn't working. The typical April-October weekend saw me spending one day in the backcountry, on or off-trail, and one day critter-watching from the roadside. Just recently, I relocated to Alaska, but I will be back eventually.

The author hypothesizes that the demise of important grizzly food sources is the primary cause of the dispersion we are seeing into areas where grizzlies have not been seen since the 1800s or early 1900s. Unfortunately (for this half-baked argument), we started seeing a gradual spread of grizzly distribution before the lake trout started having a noticeable impact on the cutthroat trout. Also, the dispersion trend was already noticeable prior to the 1988 Fires, which did a number on whitebark pines in certain areas (like the Washburn Range). Blister rust had not yet arrived in serious fashion. That has been a gradual infestation.

If one is familiar with the typical food gathering cycle of grizzlies, you recognize that grizzlies would have to be more nomadic than we observe, in order to prove this faulty theory. The fact is grizzlies are much more proficient at finding food than we give them credit for. I'm not going to go off into the long list of substitute foods that we observe grizzlies taking advantage of in Greater Yellowstone, but those of you well familiar with these bears know it from simple observation.

I fear that we have another case of science trying to support preconceived notions, and once again delay the de-listing of the Yellowstone grizzly. While certain groups keep fighting what was agreed to decades ago, long after the key benchmarks were met, other species, like the Yellowstone cutthroat trout, Canadian lynx, and wolverine are in real trouble in Greater Yellowstone. Unfortunately for those species, they don't qualify as "charismatic megafauna", and show up along the roadside, where everyone can photograph them.

It is sad to say it, but I will. Some environmental groups have swung so far off course, they are trying to abrogate agreements that were made decades ago, thus becoming less-than-honest brokers in this conflict. They ruin it for future listing of other species. It's a form of species specific myopia!


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