Monday, January 17, 2022

Thoughts on griz delisting

by By Larry Wilson
| January 12, 2022 6:40 AM

Flannery Coats and her Vice President Debo Powers did an excellent job last week in outlining why grizzly bears should not be delisted. I agree with almost all of what Flannery said and some of what Debo said. In order to decide we need to look at both the don’t delist and those who want to delist arguments.

When the big bear was listed the recovery goal was 350 and there are now over 1,000. Now we need to ask how many is too many?

Flannery was certainly correct when she said visitors most want to see a grizzly. I wonder how many visitors are too many. In the last few years visitors have caused or at least helped habituate bears in the Polebridge area. In addition, a business owner left out large amounts of garbage, and between them caused four grizzlies to be killed this year and newcomers caused two more the year before.

Habituating bears to human activity leads to the death of bears and sooner or later a bear will enter an occupied yurt or camper and someone will be mauled or killed.

I believe we have as many grizzlies on the North Fork as we need to call them recovered. I do not allow or think it advisable to sleep in a tent unless you are really careful with food which might attract bears. This is doubly true close to buildings where food odors are likely to be present.

Pet food, hummingbird feeders and garbage can all attract bears even when properly contained.

Bottom line I think grizzlies on the North Fork should be delisted on the basis of the bear population. But not now!

The bears have done their part, but we humans have not finished our part.

We need to increase the education of newcomers, but more importantly tourists. Rental cabins have become a big thing on the North Fork. Landlords need to educate and require renters to store food properly and to remove all garbage when they leave.

We need to see a qualified replacement for Tim Manley who retired this year. He has been our bear expert, chief educator and positive influence for many years and it will take time to replace him.

Finally, I would feel comfortable with Fish and Game managing bears but I would hate to have the legislature mucking things up with poor or disastrous laws.

What do you think?

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