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Hunting Grizzlies

This April 29 photo provided by the United States Geological Survey shows a grizzly bear and a cub along the Gibbon River in Yellowstone National Park. 

Two Missoula residents are part of the newly appointed 18-member Grizzly Bear Advisory Council, which will facilitate a statewide discussion on long-term grizzly bear management and conservation.

In making the appointments, Gov. Steve Bullock also issued an executive order to guide the council’s deliberations.

“I’m grateful for the incredibly strong interest from Montanans across the state who offered to serve on this council, speaking both to the timeliness of this discussion and the passion for grizzly bears that Montanans share,” Bullock said in a statement.

“I look forward to this diverse council working together to find balanced ways to conserve bears and meet the needs of Montanans and our state.”

Chad Bauer of Missoula is a municipal market manager for Republic Services, and is one of the outdoor industry representatives on the board. Erin Edge of Missoula, who works for Defenders of Wildlife, will represent conservation groups.

Bullock solicited applications for council membership beginning in April, seeking individuals with a diversity of views and commitment to working together on the future of grizzly bears in Montana. More than 150 people from across the state applied for a spot. Bullock worked in consultation with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks before making his final selections.

“This advisory council is another way to listen and learn from the people of Montana about how we might best manage bears and conserve them into the future,” said Martha Williams, the FWP director. “The number and quality of applications for this council demonstrate how the time is right for Montana to form this council and have this discussion.

“Instead of presuming how we should manage grizzly bears, I hope this effort and public conversation will increase the understanding of this complex issue, will benefit all, and provide FWP some direction moving forward.”

Bullock appointed the council to reflect the diverse group of people who have a connection to grizzly bears, including those who live, work, and recreate in bear country. The council is intentionally representative of the different parts of the state where grizzlies are currently or may soon be found.

Other council representatives include:

• Bret Barney, Wyola. Qualification: Livestock producer. Barney is the range detective and wildlife manager for Sunlight Ranch Company.

• Darrin Boss, Havre. Qualification: Hunter. Boss is the head of the Department of Research Centers for Montana State University.

• Jonathan Bowler, Condon. Qualification: Conservation group. Bowler is the education director for the Swan Valley Connections.

• Trina Jo Bradley, Valier. Qualification: Livestock producer. Bradley is a rancher in Pondera County.

• Caroline Byrd, Bozeman. Qualification: Conservation group. Byrd is the executive director of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.

• Michele Dieterich, Hamilton. Qualification: Wildlife enthusiast. Dieterich is a teacher.

• Nick Gevock, Helena. Qualification: Conservation organization. Gevock is the conservation director for the Montana Wildlife Federation.

• Lorents Grosfield, Big Timber. Qualification: Livestock producer. Grosfield is the owner/operator of a family cattle ranch in Sweet Grass County.

• Kameron Kelsey, Gallatin Gateway. Qualification: Livestock producer. Kelsey is a rancher in Gallatin County.

• Robyn King, Troy. Qualification: Conservation group. King is the executive director of the Yaak Valley Forest Council.

• Kristen Lime, Browning. Qualification: Tribal member. Lime is a rancher and pre-college adviser for Montana Educational Talent Search.

• Cole Mannix, Helena. Qualification: Conservation organization. Mannix is the associate director of Western Landowners Alliance and is a rancher in Lewis and Clark County.

• Heath Martinell, Dell. Qualification: Livestock producer. Martinell is a rancher in Beaverhead County.

• Chuck Roady, Columbia Falls. Qualification: Community leader. Roady is the vice president and general manager for F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Company.

• Gregory Schock, Saint Ignatius. Qualification: Livestock producer. Schock owns Schock’s Mission View Dairy.

• Anne Schuschke, East Glacier. Qualification: Outdoor industry professional. Schuschke is a substitute teacher and expedition leader for Natural Habitat Adventures.

The advisory council’s work will center around broad objectives including maintaining and enhancing human safety; ensuring a healthy and sustainable grizzly bear population; improving timely and effective response to conflicts involving grizzly bears; engaging all partners in grizzly-related outreach and conflict prevention; and improving intergovernmental, interagency, and tribal coordination.

Currently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Blackfeet and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, all manage grizzly bears in Montana as “threatened” under authority of the Endangered Species Act.

In Montana, the state FWP is responsible for much of the day-to-day management of bears. The federal Fish and Wildlife Service has attempted to delist grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and may delist them in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. Whether listed or not, it is expected that grizzly populations will continue to grow and expand, and that conflicts and management challenges will continue to increase.

“This council can play a critical role in providing timely and durable solutions to bear management and conservation that work for Montana in the long term,” Bullock said.

Staff from the Center for Natural Resources & Environmental Policy at the University of Montana will facilitate council meetings.

For more information on the council, including membership, meeting information and ways to be involved, go to fwp.mt.gov.

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