Summer is here, and there is some exciting news to report! The second confirmed grizzly has shown up in the Clearwater since the turn of the century. Grizzly bears are moving back into the Clearwater, just as Dr. David Mattson suggested they may do and have done at a recent presentation he did for Friends of the Clearwater this spring in Moscow. Watch Dr. Mattson’s program here.
Studies done by Dr. Mattson show the Clearwater, especially the upper North Fork, Lochsa and Selway drainages, is excellent grizzly habitat. If salmon recover in these areas and we allow bears the space they need in the Clearwater, habitat would be even better. A 2001 study done by Drs. Carlos Carroll, Reed Noss, and Paul Paquet show that the best grizzly habitat in the Rockies, from and including Yellowstone National Park to and including Jasper National Park, is centered on the Clearwater Basin. Watch “Clearwater’s Carnivores” to learn more!
This bear, which has a radio collar, appeared in Kelly Creek. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released this young male in the Cabinet Mountains in Montana last year to augment the grizzly population in that area because he has never been a problem bear, selected by wildlife officials in Montana for that very reason—he traveled southwest and arrived in Clearwater Country. However, this news is not all good.
Unfortunately, this young male was eating from a bait station set out by black-bear hunters. One can only hope the fate of this poor bear will not be similar to the last confirmed grizzly in the same area. In 2007, a male grizzly, about six years old, was illegally killed by a hunter in Kelly Creek at a bear-baiting station. Nobody knows how long that bear had been living in the Clearwater, but his parentage was grizzlies that inhabit the Selkirk Mountains in the northern tip of Idaho. Read the news article.
Idaho presently allows the practice of bear baiting. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) allows black-bear hunters to create areas where they can put out bait to lure in black bears so they can kill black bears at these baiting stations. While IDFG prohibits bait to be other game animals, such as fish, elk, or deer, IDFG permits hunters to use human food, such as large quantities of old donuts and the like, to attract black bears during bear hunting seasons. The impacts to grizzlies from this hunting practice is currently the subject of a lawsuit that some of our allies have brought against the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Read about the case here.
Friends of the Clearwater authored a letter, signed by several organizations, that was sent to IDFG with copies to the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asking that IDFG end bear baiting in areas that might have grizzlies, including the Clearwater Basin. It is past time Idaho ends this unsavory practice, which habituates bears to human food. It is not good for any bears, black or grizzly, and it creates conflicts between bears and people.
TAKE ACTION! It’s time for citizens to place pressure on state and federal agencies to ban baiting in the best large carnivore habitat left in the Lower 48!
Still angry over bear baiting? Hike it out with Friends the Clearwater! Join us for a trek up Johns Creek, a tributary of the South Fork of the Clearwater, Saturday, July 20, 2019. We’ll check out the proposes Hungry Ridge timber sale and ways to protect Johns Creek as Wild and Scenic in the revised forest plan. Also, kick back, relax, hike, and swim during our annual summer camp out at Wilderness Gateway Campground August 9-11, 2019. To learn more, check out our event page and call the office if you have any questions. The summer camp out is family-friendly!