Grizzly Miracle: Grand Teton’s 399 Emerges with Quadruplets
June 4, 2020
To her fans, the sight of 399 and her new family transformed a season of tedium and anxiety into a time of celebration. After months of lockdown, the wonders of the natural world have seldom seemed so precious. Spring is bursting forth with a superabundance of wildflowers as seeming redemption for our social isolation, and as fitting welcome for an amazing bear whose life has enriched families from across the country who have been fortunate enough to see her.
We should never forget that the fate of grizzlies is in our hands. Nor should we forget the difference that one good mom can make, provided we let her and her kids live. The entire Yellowstone grizzly bear population could be built on as few as 50 fertile females alive during the early 1980’s. Every mom matters. And a female such as 399 is an Olympian.
But despite her competence as a mother, so far 399 has replaced herself just once with a female who has also had cubs: Grizzly 610. The reasons are pretty straight-forward. Grizzly bear birth rates are inherently low and many of 399’s offspring have been killed by humans.
Grizzly 399 reminds us that a reciprocal relationship with nature -- even with a large carnivore -- is still possible. In making the risky choice to trust us with her fate and those of her cubs, she is also challenging us to return the favor with a spirit of generosity. The lives and deaths of Grizzly 399’s clan remind us too how far we have to go to reform the institutions that govern their fate – and that of hundreds of grizzlies that define the wild heart of the Northern Rockies.
“What Are We Fighting About?” 9th Circuit Hears Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Delisting Case
May 20, 2020
Judge Hurwitz was justifiably confused by the fact that federal lawyers were demanding the Court’s precious time to contest what seemed an uncontested issue, asking: “Is there anybody in this case who doesn’t think the remnant shouldn’t remain listed? Tell me what we’re fighting about if everybody agrees the remnant should remain listed.”
In recent years, grizzlies have been expanding westward from Yellowstone and southeast from the Northern Continental Divide, raising hopes for natural connectivity. But Bishop warned that hunting grizzlies on the ecosystem’s periphery would reverse this progress.
…the states would have free rein to kill literally hundreds of bears. Due to weak post-delisting monitoring, a major drop in the population would probably not be detected in time to reverse course. Even if problems were detected, would be no binding mechanisms to correct them.
As numbers of grizzly bear deaths mount, the population is at a tipping point. And our climate will almost certainly continue to warm, with worsening consequences for bears. Models show that we are likely to lose army cutworm moths, another staple food for Yellowstone grizzlies that has, for now, picked up some of the slack left by dead whitebark pine.
I am reminded of a day, years ago, when I overheard another federal judge, also from Montana, say to an attorney: “you know, I don’t know why you would ever trust the states with the grizzly.”
After thanking the bear’s devoted lawyers one more time, there is a lot we can do right now for grizzlies, including giving them more space and more compassion. We also need to make our governments accountable and worthy of our trust. Ultimately, how we manage grizzlies in their last refuges in Yellowstone and the Northern Rockies is a measure of who we are. Are our hearts big enough to keep grizzlies in our midst?
Denned Up As Grizzlies Emerge: Reawakening Awe and Wonder
April 18, 2020
The power of intimate encounters with wild animals is rooted in our sense of awe, when time seems to slow down as our sense of space opens up. We feel smaller, less self-absorbed, and connected to a larger world. Often our jaw drops, our eyes widen, and our skin tingles.
The experience of awe is accompanied by the perception of vastness and the struggle to mentally process an experience. Because the norms of our understanding are violated, we struggle to find a new way to accommodate it – which entails revising our notions of how the world works and our role within it.
Many of us have the opportunity -- even need -- to get outdoors (practicing proper social distancing, of course) and celebrate the arrival of warblers, sandhill cranes, and ground squirrels. Mother grizzlies, now emerging with new cubs, remind us of the promise of transformation and renewal.
Traveling Fast & Silent: Mountain Biking With Grizzly Bears
February 27, 2020
The few scientific investigations of encounters between bikers and grizzly bears paint a stark picture. Data pooled from all of the available reports show that 87% of all documented encounters were at distances less than 50 m, and that 52% involved females with young.
…If a person is approaching at high speed, solitary bears are plausibly better able to detect the approach and leave before being seen. By contrast, females with young are predictably challenged and delayed by marshaling their offspring before being able to depart, even if they detect an oncoming bicyclist at a distance.
The weight of evidence unambiguously supports concluding that mountain biking is far more hazardous for involved people and more impactful on affected bears compared to any other pedestrian activity with the exception of hunting.
The Grizzly Cost of Coexistence, Part Two
December 16, 2019
Now more than ever, we need to be innovative in thinking about how to meet the need for funds to support grizzly bear coexistence work. Even with strong laws such as the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and public support for reducing conflicts, recovery efforts will fail if resources are lacking.
Even though it’s difficult to come up with a full estimate of costs, comprehensive coexistence will undoubtedly cost millions of dollars annually for all of the grizzly bear ecosystems in the Northern Rockies.
…I can say for certain is that the bottom will fall out of funding for coexistence if federal protections for the grizzly are removed…along with incentives that the Endangered Species Act currently provides for people to invest in coexistence.
We must do better with the resources we now have, even as we seek new funding to expand our coexistence infrastructure and increase the cadre of skilled specialists. We can start by focusing on shared real-world problems as part of an effort to bring people together who may otherwise be on opposite sides of ideological fences.
The Grizzly Cost of Coexistence, Part One
November 30, 2019
During the nearly 40 years that I have observed and participated in grizzly bear management, I have heard the need for increased funding of coexistence efforts voiced time and time again, bringing together people on all sides of the grizzly bear debate.
The demand for more funding to reduce conflicts with grizzlies in the Northern Rockies is mounting even as the budgets of wildlife management agencies shrink. Exacerbating current problems, grizzly bears are expanding their range in response to deteriorating habitat conditions catalyzed by climate warming, invasive species, and burgeoning numbers of people.
Although it’s easy to get caught up in the technology and gadgetry of coexistence, I’ve found that just about all successful coexistence efforts are fundamentally rooted in curiosity about, even compassion for, grizzlies.
It is time to move away from wasteful, polarizing, and unjustified government campaigns to delist grizzlies. Instead, we need to focus on efforts that bring communities together to foster coexistence. Our major challenges inescapably involve finding enough funding, building support for coexistence, and enforcing laws that help keep grizzlies alive.
Inviting the Chief of the Grizzlies to Our Feast
October 20, 2019
To celebrate our interrelatedness, we carved bear totems and masks, danced bear dances, and told stories of people turning into bears and bears turning into people. For perhaps 15,000 years we located the Pole Star in a constellation that represents a bear to find our bearings – whether we lived in Siberia or California or Greece.
In springtime before plants green up and provide bears something to eat, Karl strategically places dead stock for bears to eat away from his calving areas. "My theory is that if a bear's full, he's not gonna look at my cows.” And they don’t. The ranch has not lost a cow to a bear since 1959.
…beginning only 200 years ago, we succeeded in building, for a while, a society on quicksand: greed, domination, and short-term gain. The result has been catastrophic for the bear, the planet, and us.
In this harvest time, a season of reciprocity, we are reminded of how much we have to share with those who are less fortunate or simply different. Metaphorically inviting the Chief of the Grizzlies to our feast might just be the only way to save our souls, society, and perhaps the planet.
Exorcizing Wendigo to Save Grizzlies, Ourselves
September 22, 2019
Clearly, to some livestock producers the only good coyote, or wolf, or grizzly is a dead one, and the government’s only job is to serve their bottom line and their ideological demands. Subservient politicians accordingly dish up federal funding to exterminate animals that a few privileged ranchers consider to be “inconvenient.”
As a woman speaking up for wolves that night, I too seemed a threat. My remarks and those of other wolf advocates were drowned out with catcalls and jeers from the men in cowboy garb who crowded the room. I was glad I was careful where I parked my car.
In Algonquin culture, the monster Wendigo is considered “the evil spirit that devours mankind.” In most versions of the legend, a human becomes a Wendigo after his or her spirit is corrupted by greed or weakened by extreme hunger, cold, or isolation. Possessing superhuman strength and stamina, Wendigo stalks, overpowers, and devours its victims.
Wildlife Services is one agency that clearly dis-serves the American public. Elimination of this embodiment of Wendigo is long overdue. At the same time, we need to create new incentives to advance coexistence…
Grizzly Twister and Other Games that Scientists Play
July 31, 2019
Perhaps the first point worth reiterating is that carrying capacity varies—potentially by a substantial amount—and has likely declined in the ecosystem core with losses of cutthroat trout, whitebark pine, and elk. All three of these foods had been high-quality dietary mainstays for Yellowstone’s grizzly bears, but are all now much diminished…
…there is an imperative to penetrate the veil of obfuscations and contradictions to help foster a truly informed rather than faith-based public conversation about how best to conserve our iconic Yellowstone grizzly bears.
For good or bad, demography has ended up being central to the on-going political debate about the future for Yellowstone’s grizzly bears. Perhaps as a direct consequence, the relevant science has been badly politicized, with implications not only for grizzly bears and the people who care about them, but also for the integrity of relations between science and society.
Through the Climate Looking Glass into Grizzly Wonderland
July 20, 2019
Grizzly bears have been affected by climate change. Our most conclusive evidence comes from the Yellowstone ecosystem where dietary staples have already been more or less driven off the menu by climate change, with resulting deleterious changes in bear behaviors.
And, grizzly bears will be affected by future climate change. Wildfires will become even more frequent and extensive. Whitebark pine will be doomed to functional extirpation. Berry-producing shrubs will be diminished—some species dramatically so.
Meanwhile, bear biologists sit around tables drinking coffee, pontificating about the insignificance of climate change, or exert themselves writing rules that lessen protections for grizzly bears, attesting to the presumed non-effects of climate warming…
Perhaps at a minimum, we can approach management and conservation of our threatened grizzly bears in a more enlightened, responsible, and humble manner. As Bob Dylan so eloquently sang in All Along the Watch Tower, “…let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.”
Wild Thoughts About the Wild Gallatin
June 30, 2019
Today, white and grey clouds roll in from the north like the mane on a galloping horse, presaging a squall. But the Gallatin Range – the largest unprotected roadless expanse in the Greater Yellowstone -- knows nothing about the raging political storm that will soon shape her fate.
During the late 1980s into the 1990s, many of us still believed that a statewide wilderness bill was possible and imminent, one that would protect the Gallatins, Crazies, and Pryors, along with additions to the existing Absaroka-Beartooth and Lee Metcalf Wilderness Areas.
Researchers who study wide-ranging species such as wolverine, lynx, wolves, elk, and grizzlies, have long argued for protecting more wilderness and reconnecting the remaining wild ecosystems of the Northern Rockies. Pioneer grizzly bear researchers John and Frank Craighead coined the term “Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem” to describe the 6 million acres of wildlands needed to sustain grizzlies -- and tirelessly advocated for wilderness.
As we face unthinkable challenges that include the specter of half of the planet’s mammalian species winking out during the next century, we can start by protecting what wilderness we have in our back yard.
Felicia’s Fate: The Trials of a Grizzly Bear Mom
June 26, 2019
Felicia is a tragic figure who could have easily been a character in classic Greek literature or a Victorian novel. She is a bear’s version of the young woman who got in trouble with the law and ended up a single mom in a rough neighborhood trying to scrape together a living while fending off predatory males.
…she and her cubs have attracted great crowds of tourists, gawkers, photographers, and fans intent on seeing a grizzly bear, getting a killer photo of a grizzly, keeping track of her well-being, or just simply being part of the scene.
This young inexperienced bear has little buffer against lack of sustenance or vagaries of the world, and is likewise prey to indifference and platitudes on the part of those with authority over its fate.
Advocates for bears such as Felicia need to do what might seem unthinkable and shift focus from a perhaps unredeemable near-term situation to higher-order and longer-term goals.
The Gallatin Forest Partnership and the Tyranny of Ego
June 19, 2019
…a host of artists in addition to Cervantes have been attuned since time immemorial to a fundamental divide between motivations arising from a desire to overtly gratify “self” versus other more noble motivations arising from self-transcendent aspirations—the difference, say, between egotism and greed and self-sacrifice and altruism.
Forest Service spokespeople such as Forest Supervisor Mary Erickson have often and loudly proclaimed the virtues of this stakeholder group, invoking the new-age rhetoric of citizen-based “collaboration” and “negotiation.” Perhaps cynically, one could view these proclamations as merely part of a public relations program designed to bolster the cover given to Forest Service decision-makers by this Partnership.
The extent to which human affairs continue to be governed by primacy of the ego and related pursuit of self-enhancing values will dictate, in turn, the extent to which any semblance of health and sustainability will remain globally imperiled.
Social Carrying Capacity Politspeak Bamboozle
May 13, 2019
Policy-relevant information is to be obtained, used, and communicated openly, with as little prejudice as possible. In other words, public communications by folks working for government bureaus should not be in the form of propaganda—not politspeak, at least in a democratic society, at least ideally.
…what do wildlife managers seem to be saying when they invoke “social carrying capacity” as justification for killing these animals? Basically, it comes down to this: the assertion that “people” will not tolerate any more of these large carnivores (read grizzly bears for Yellowstone), which means that “we’ve” reached the limits for how many can be supported in a given area, which means that “we” need to start reducing numbers by killing more animals.
It is worth noting that none of the wildlife managers deploying the concept of “social carrying capacity” have any obvious expertise in conceptualizing, assessing, or otherwise measuring social phenomena. They are certainly not social scientists. And they are certainly not acquainted with the pedigree of the concept they so freely invoke.
I am aggravated, not just by the betrayal of intellectual integrity implicit to how Yellowstone’s grizzly bear managers are using “social carrying capacity,” but also by the extent to which this usage is clearly part of a propaganda campaign that serves the partisan interests of wildlife management agencies and the politically well-connected few that they serve—not the broader public interest.
Grizzly Sardine Can Blues Reprise
April 26, 2019
For those of you who have been paying attention to the rhetoric relentlessly voiced by agency spokespeople for the last 6 years, you will have heard the refrain about too many bears in too little space over and over again.
But I would argue that there is cause to question the experts. In fact, there is an increasing and, to my mind, wholly justified tendency for the public to question experts, especially when there is reason to suspect that they are politically motivated.
But perhaps the most important point is one that features us—and what goes on between our ears. History has shown that perhaps the most important determinant of the numbers of grizzly bears that can live in any given area is our behaviors, in turn rooted in our worldviews—how we see ourselves in relation to the world and to the creatures in it. But perhaps the most important point is one that features us—and what goes on between our ears. History has shown that perhaps the most important determinant of the numbers of grizzly bears that can live in any given area is our behaviors, in turn rooted in our worldviews—how we see ourselves in relation to the world and to the creatures in it.
We have the chance to create a world where grizzlies and people coexist in places where we probably can’t even imagine it is possible. But, it is possible. Grizzlies have proven that they can tolerate us and live among humans with few problems.
Of Leopold, The Land Ethic and Managing Our Wildlife
April 16, 2019
Aldo writes about a radical transformation that he underwent just a handful of years later. After shooting into a pack of wolves, he describes reaching “…the old wolf in time to watch the fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes – something known only to her and the mountain.
…as the nation grew, so did the toll on wildlife, habitat, and wildlands. To counter this problematic trend, Leopold offered a philosophic frame called the Land Ethic, famously writing: “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”
…brainy, concerned people inside and outside government are coming up with innovative ways to reform our institutions of wildlife management, particularly in the western states, to better reflect the values of the broader public, not just a privileged few.
Now more than ever, we need a Leopoldian revolution of thought and attitude, one characterized by “voluntary decency” rooted in love and responsibility for this beleaguered planet. Indeed, as we struggle to navigate the mess we have created, the Land Ethic can serve as a beacon in a storm. Long may spirit of the Leopold clan live.
Of Estella Leopold and a “Fierce Green Fire” for the Earth
March 26, 2019
My path to Estella’s door began with her father, whose classic book of essays, Sand County Almanac, contributed to changing my life as well as the lives of so many others. I have long been fascinated with Leopold’s conversion in his views about predators, from treating them as varmints to be eradicated, to valued members of their ecosystems.
It was almost inevitable that the younger Estella would become a scientist. The youngest of five siblings, who each became leading scientists in their own right, Estella was asked at age twelve by her father what she wanted to be when she grew up. She responded: “a bug-ologist, the others are already taken.”
I can count on one hand leaders who are true geniuses in this arena. I include Estella in this rarified group. What is astonishing about her early victories, especially Florissant, is that it was won without the help of environmental laws that were mostly passed afterwards.
You can feel her passion in her delightful story about pikas, a small mountain species of rabbit, today threatened by a warming climate. And her fondness for her students, who she coached and helped launch on eminent careers.
Tale of Two Carnivores: Lions, Bears and BBC's “The Conversation”
March 10, 2019
I had not heard of her work or the new Attenborough series before receiving a call from the London-based BBC World Service radio producer exploring the possibility of bringing Shivani and me together by phone to share our experiences in large carnivore conservation.
The challenges we face are uncannily similar: protected areas too small for the wide-ranging carnivores that depend on them, mounting human encroachment, and a warming climate. With extremely low birth rates, grizzlies and lions are at the mercy of humans like never before.
…we need skilled and conscientious people more than ever inside and outside government, in media rooms and classrooms, on court benches and corporate boards, in villages and cities—all caring about the natural world. We may not be able to resurrect The Garden of Eden, but we can keep this Earth habitable for us, our children, and wild animals. In the end, the spirit of Gaia, nurturing Mother Earth, may help us more than worship of rampant capitalism.
Action Jackson: Of Poachers, Grizzlies and Coexistence
March 7, 2019
Bob bumped into grizzlies often during his near 70,000 miles of travel in Yellowstone’s backcountry, but never had to shoot a bear or even once deploy the capsaicin-based bear spray that he carried with him. He recalls his problems were not with grizzlies but with poachers who sometimes gunned down big game inside the Park.
Bob’s investigations became especially inconvenient in the run-up to US Fish and Wildlife Service’s first attempt to remove ESA protections for Yellowstone’s threatened grizzly bears in 2006. Then as now, agencies were invested in happy talk about the status of grizzlies, and any criticism of management was--and still is--unwelcome.
The 64-million-dollar question is: will the agencies do anything different this time? Will hunters, outfitters, and managers change their behaviors? Or will we only hear more whining from Wyoming politicians and wildlife managers, followed by yet more of our grizzlies being gunned down because of toxic ideologies, willful ignorance, and venal political posturing?
The Night of Terror: Wyoming Game and Fish’s Latest Attempt to Close the Bookon the Mark Uptain Tragedy
February 4, 2019
As someone who has been following Mark Uptain’s story since it broke, I’ve read pretty much everything that has been published on the subject. …But I also came across a number of ideas that do not serve this end, the most insidious of which is the “Monday quarterback” fallacy, or the notion that because we weren’t there we have no business speculating about what happened or second-guessing the decisions and actions of those involved. This attempt to silence people who are, for the most part, just trying to understand what happened, sounds an awful lot like the “shoot, shovel, and shut up” mentality we hear so much about here in the West.
The irony is that here, and elsewhere in WYGF’s reporting, we are forced to speculate because the report leaves too many major questions unexplored and unanswered. Perhaps they were attempting to assure us that protocols were followed and things were done by-the-book. The trouble with reports is that they are made of words, and like any tool, words can betray us if we don’t know how to use them.
On this point, Jackson was even more emphatic: “I never, ever heard of a Park Service case where somebody was left for the night when there were bear-human incidents. They had to have had everything with them ready to spend the night. Never do you leave the scene of something like this incident. They had no idea of whether the mauled victim was alive or dead. You don't leave a possibly live human for a night of terror.”
Anti-grizzly Fever Grips Wyoming, Again
January 31, 2019
Grizzlies and public lands are owned by all of us. But to Wyoming’s elites in the ranching and outfitting industries who profit from the public domain, delisting bears is an ideological issue, but also yet another opportunity to make money at public expense. Dare we call it welfare?
The government mantra is that the population of grizzly bears has been relentlessly growing and, because of that, spreading inexorably out. But according to IGBST data, that is simply not true.
Restraint, honesty and a dose of reality would help right now. Grizzlies are not going to be delisted anytime soon, so let’s roll up our sleeves and do something constructive for not only grizzly bears, but also for all of us who are affected by and care for these animals.
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
January 17, 2019
In the Northern Hemisphere, the importance of real-life bears is reflected in the many stories of the cosmos that the ancients gifted us with – none more universal than those told about the Great Bear. Playing center stage in the northern night sky, bears were often depicted as guides and teachers, and literally provided direction. The Big Dipper points to the North Star in Ursa Minor, and never sinks below the horizon at night.
The first written star maps can be dated to an astoundingly early date of 1700 BC in Mesopotamia. What we think of as the current system of constellations was codified by the Assyrians shortly after, around 1100 BC – including the Big Dipper as a bear – and integrated into the later Greek system of 88 constellations. The bear constellation makes its literary debut around 500 BC in Homer’s epic poems.
In a Zuni tale, the Great Bear guards the land from the frozen gods of the north. In winter, the land is ravaged by the frozen breath of the ice gods as the bear sleeps. In the spring, when the bear wakes, she drives the frozen gods back and the land is refreshed.
Bears, in the sky and on earth, can help show us a path towards health, community and shared purpose. They can connect us with magic, mystery and a rich textured human past. More importantly, they can help us imagine a different future.
Of Friends, Science, Politics and Bears: There's Got to be a Better Way
January 1, 2019
As for many friends from afar, the major attraction of Yellowstone for Barrie is not its world-renowned thermal features. It’s the wildness. There are other landscapes just as spectacular in their own way, and there are hot springs, hot pools and geysers elsewhere, but not all of these combined with wildlife that is the wildness of Yellowstone. Furthermore, an important part of this wildness is the presence of fierce beasts.
So, here we go, a seemingly endless cycle of delisting, litigation, reversal, appeal, lower court decision upheld, delisting, litigation, reversal etc., etc., etc. …There has got to be a better way – and there is. However, it is not through ill-considered legislation that would delist the great bear by congressional edict, but instead, a process truly based on “best science.” As is often the case on hikes with Barrie, our conversation turns to grizzlies, but this time, we speculate on how we might change this counterproductive cycle…
…there are committed people such as Barrie who will remind us that there is an objective reality to how grizzlies make a living, and that there are habitat requisites to sustaining that living. Hopefully, embracing that reality will inspire us as a society to attain the worthy goal of meaningful long-lasting recovery of Yellowstone's grizzly bears.
Bear Dreaming: Of Wonder in Winter
December 18, 2018
In the darkness below the snow, we find miracles and mysteries. I like the fact that, despite industrial-scale research, hibernation remains magical and elusive. Wild animals will always defy circumscription by the human intellect – and throw us back on heart, soul, and imagination.
In my gathering of bear stories over the years, I have found only one that truly baffles me. It is the story that legitimizes killing bears as trophies and extolls destroying bears when nonlethal approaches are available for resolving conflicts. This story is the opposite of reverence and wonder. It is about domination, violence, and death.
As grizzly bears disappear into high-country dens to undertake the annual miracle of hibernation, we ourselves can pause for reflection. What kind of world will we dream for grizzly bears this winter? What sort of world will grizzly bears wake up to next spring? Will it be a world in which wonder is diminished or renewed?
On Escudilla, the Leopold Clan, and the Big White Bear
December 2, 2018
Escudilla was once more than just a mountain. To Aldo Leopold, writing in Sand County Almanac, the massif in Arizona’s White Mountains was defined by the grizzly bear, “the outstanding achievement of… the pageant of evolution.” Leopold tells the tragic tale of how Old...
Saving Romania's Brown Bears, Sharing Lessons About Coxistence, Conservation
November 11, 2018
David and I recently spent a couple weeks in the company of a group of Romanians who had come to the U.S. to learn what we had to offer about coexisting with grizzly bears, which are of the same species, Ursus arctos, as their local “brown bears.” They had come to Seel...
The Grizzlies of Wapusk: an Unfolding Story of Change
November 2, 2018
Dr. Douglas Clark
Most of what I thought I knew about grizzlies literally went out the window on June 6, 1998. That morning I was flying along the west coast of Hudson Bay with a team of four park officers for our first five-day foot patrol in newly-established Wapusk National Park. Bet...
The Rhetoric and Reality of Death by Grizzly
October 22, 2018
Despite Wyoming Game and Fish’s official conclusion to the investigation into Mark Uptain’s death, the only takeaway from which is that they killed the “right” bears, I still find myself troubled by reporter Mike Koshmrl’s account of the incident. Between his innuendo...
Unsubstantiated Claims about Our Grizzly Bears by a Political Economist
October 20, 2018
Terry Anderson wrote a recent opinion piece for the Washington D.C.-focused publication “The Hill” in which he made a number of unsubstantiated, even bizarre, claims about the past, present, and future of grizzly bears in the West. His assertions captured what seems to...
Basket of Deplorables Revisited: Grizzly Bears at the Mercy of Wyoming
October 18, 2018
Recent statements by politicians as well as grizzly managers and researchers in the Yellowstone ecosystem have revealed much about not only their motivations, but also the masters they serve. Official communications have been resoundingly and selectively silent about...
Grizzly Victory: Trophy Hunt Stopped, But Bear Deaths Skyrocket
October 4, 2018
Late afternoon of September 24, Federal Judge Dana Christensen restored endangered species protections for Yellowstone grizzly bears, putting to rest for now the threat of a grizzly bear trophy hunt. With a sigh of relief, I noticed the pung...
Grizzly Killing Climbs, Even as Trophy Hunt is Stalled
September 14, 2018
Numbers of grizzly bear deaths continue to climb this year even as a federal judge has blocked, for another two weeks, a trophy hunt of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem that was scheduled to follow the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s 2017 decision to rem...
"What's Changed?" Judge Christensen Probes Grizzly Bear Delisting
September 6, 2018
On August 30th of this year an army of lawyers descended upon Missoula, Montana, to argue over whether a 2017 move by the US Fish & Wildlife Service (AKA “The Service”) to remove Endangered Species protections for Yellowstone’s grizzly bears was legal. Judge Dana Chris...
Can Canada Help the U.S. Recover Its Border Grizzly Bear Populations?
August 23, 2018
In the spring of 2010, a grizzly sow and her two cubs headed north from Glacier National Park into Alberta. They likely followed the winding length of the Belly River as it meanders its way from Glacier National Park’s Helen Lake, across the US-Canada border, and into...
Collective Narcissism and the Plight of Ursus arctos in Europe and America
July 31, 2018
In common with the rest of humanity, American’s often engage in bombastic displays of national chauvinism. At its most negative, some scholars have likened this impulse to collective narcissism : “…an inflated, unrealistic view of the national ingroup’s greatness co...
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
July 15, 2018
Those people who were paying attention to the 2016 election will probably remember the furor surrounding a politically ill-advised quip by Hillary Clinton characterizing many of those who supported Trump as “a basket of deplorables who espouse racist, sexist, homophobi...
The Sinister Underbelly of Climate Warming Denial
July 2, 2018
The last few days of June 2018 saw most people in the United States sweltering in an epic heat wave. High temperatures were uniformly between 90 and 110 degrees in a mind-boggling 17 states . Heat indices in parts of the East and Midwest approached 120 degrees. Heat...
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
June 20, 2018
She could not be dead, I thought, she had survived so much – blizzards at the Standing Rock pipeline protest, her public breakdown, and even flying in the stratosphere as Lois Lane in the movie Superman. Yes, she was a celebrity – but I saw Margie simply as my...
New Information on 2017 Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Deaths Should Nix Trophy Hunting in Core Habitat
June 13, 2018
Wyoming officials are barging ahead with a September hunt of Yellowstone grizzly bears despite new information about bear deaths that shows that no hunting should occur this year. This according to protocols adopted by the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho when 201...
Monuments to the Ego
May 27, 2018
Some rich bourgeoisie newcomers have perpetrated yet the latest in a series of atrocities upon the small valley where we live, entailing an assault on the sensibilities of virtually everyone and everything living there. Adding insult to injury, this has all been done w...
Celebrating the Quintessential Grizzly Mom on Mothers’ Day
May 12, 2018
It is impossible not to think of your Mother on Mother’s Day. In the bear world, many of us have been blessed to be in the company of the quintessential Grizzly Bear Mother: Jackson Wyoming’s bear matron and rock star, known only by her number in the sequence of bears...
The Cult of Hunting and its Timely Demise
April 20, 2018
On August 7th, 1874, George Armstrong Custer shot a grizzly bear. At the time, he was t...
April 12, 2018
It’s a warm day in a spring beset by snow. A day when carrion beetles proceed about their work with renewed vigor, and the ticks begin to stir. A day when spring greens grow another inch up through last year’s debris. A day of birth and death. The winte...
Trophy Hunting Harms Grizzly Bears
March 30, 2018
For the first time in over 40 years, Yellowstone’s grizzly bears will be subjected to trophy hunting. Hunting was ended back in 1975 with institution of Endangered Species Act protections, but aggressively resurrected by wildlife managers the moment those protections w...
Wyoming Plans to Slaughter Grizzly Bears
March 14, 2018
During the second week of March, Wyoming wildlife managers released what they called “draft” plans and regulations for trophy hunting grizzly bears. A map delineating hunting areas was released shortly after, on March 12th. These formal releases were accompanied by a P...
The Miracle of Grizzly Birth
February 7, 2018
Now is the season of miracles, when deep in frozen earth, grizzly bear mothers give birth to cubs the size of tea cups. Since time immemorial, we have been fascinated by the ability of bears to disappear into the ground in the fall, seemingly die, and then reemerge wit...
Tribes Stand Their Ground for Grizzly Bears -- and Us
January 30, 2018
Wyoming is the first Northern Rockies state to initiate a hunting season for grizzly bears in over 40 years. Yet hunting grizzlies is an anathema to 850,000 people who opposed removal of endangered species protections for Yellowstone grizzlies (“delisting”) in comments...
Wyoming Thugs Greenlight Grizzly Bear Trophy Hunts
January 22, 2018
On January 18, Wyoming officials announced a grizzly bear trophy hunt that could begin this fall. State officials said that a plan with details of the hunt, including hunt areas and season lengths, would be released for public comment in February (link). Thus far, Wyomi...
"Brandy" Brandborg: Keeper of the Flame for Wilderness
January 11, 2018
I was 14 when I first saw the impossible soaring backbone of the Northern Rockies. As a kid from fenced-in farm country in eastern Pennsylvania, I was not prepared for the immensity of the wild country I found in the West. I never would have predicted how Wilderness, a...
A Poverty of Bureaucrats: The Sad Case of Grizzly Bear Recovery and Distinct Population Segments
January 7, 2018
On December 7th 2017 the US Fish & Wildlife Service (i.e., “the Service”) requested comments from the public “…on a recent D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling…that may impact our June 30, 2017, final rule delisting the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly bear...
A Different "Night of the Grizzlies": States Poised to Slaughter Yellowstone Grizzlies
December 21, 2017
This article was published in the fall 2017 issue of Counter Punch Magazine. Counter Punch is a great outfit that places a premium on hard-hitting journalism and regularly publishes Grizzly Times' blogs.
Becoming Grizzly Bear Food
December 14, 2017
I have had my share of close encounters with free-ranging fully-autonomous griz...
Hunting to Scare Grizzlies? NRA-Safari Club Spawn a Red Herring
December 3, 2017
Kill grizzly bears to make them afraid of humans? This idea has gotten a lot of attention in recent years as one of several justifications for removing endangered species act (ESA) protections for Yellowstone’s grizzlies, turning the bears over to state management, and...
Obesity In Bears: Vital and Beautiful
November 16, 2017
She was so obese that, from behind, her gait looked more like a waddle than a walk. You could see the fat on her massive butt roll from side to side with each deliberate step. Her dark hair glistened in the fall sunlight.
No, she was not a human with a weight problem. S...
Contingencies of Coexistence, Part II: Diagnosing the Landscapes
November 6, 2017
In part one of this two part series I offer my take on how the heterogeneity of those involved in the drama of cohabiting with wolves and grizzly bears can be usefully parsed for diagnostic purposes. My four broad categories are Regressive Reprobates, Reluctant Pragmat...
Contingencies of Coexistence, Part I: Parsing the Participants
October 27, 2017
Coexistence seems to be the new bling for a bunch of people making money and careers from wolves and grizzly bears, especially in the mayhem surrounding recent removals of federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection for both species. The by-now old saw is that it d...
Beauty in Our Beast
October 5, 2017
Demons seem to surround us. The irony, though, is that we create these demons largely between our ears, often spawned by autogenerated fears, sometimes rooted in our problematic relations with the world. This them...
Tribes Reject Yellowstone Park Names Honoring War Criminal and White Supremacist
September 25, 2017
On Saturday, September 16, under blustery skies and a new dusting of snow on Yellowstone's peaks, representatives of eight Tribes demanded name changes for features in the Park, Mount Doane and Hayden Valley, that had been named for war criminal L...
Court Helps Cabinet Yaak Grizzlies, Again: Time for Fish and Wildlife Service to Do Better
August 30, 2017
Last week, the beleaguered grizzlies in the Cabinet Yaak ecosystem got a potentially lifesaving break from Federal District Court Judge Dana Christiansen. Christiansen ordered the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to reverse its 2014 decision to downgrade the populati...
Ted and Joan Major: Last of a Generation of Conservation Giants in Jackson Hole
August 6, 2017
Two weeks ago, I was part of a celebration of Ted and Joan Major, founders of the Teton Science School (TSS), the much-lauded environmental education center in Jackson, Wyoming. I had served as the school’s Field Studies Director during 1984...
The Late Great Whitebark Pine
July 30, 2017
Prior to our current millennium, whitebark pine seeds comprised a substantial part of diets eaten by grizzly bears in areas where whitebark pine was abundant--historically, second only to meat from large mammals in the Yellowstone ecosystem, and third only to berries a...
Make America Great Again: Kill a Predator and Deport an Illegal Alien
June 23, 2017
I have been asked more than once about hazards of the wilds. We humans seem fascinated, even titillated, by scary stuff, including animals that can hurt us. Given that I’ve spent most of my professional life working around free-ranging grizzly bears an...
Senators Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Tom Udall Back Tribes in Grizzly Fight
June 15, 2017
Summer is exploding in Yellowstone with new life. Orange baby buffalo chase each other as watchful moms look on, wolf pups discover the big wide world outside their dens, and grizzly bear cubs imit...
The Epic Shared Journey of Bison and Grizzly Bears
June 9, 2017
Yellowstone National Park is the only place on Earth where bison and grizzly bears coexist in significant numbers. Most people, inured to the on-going ecological holocaust of recent centuries, probably think this 2-million-acre area is huge. Yet the current joint distr...
Fighting for the Wild and the Human Spirit
May 26, 2017
I was 14 when I first saw the impossible white spine of the Northern Rockies. Nothing in my life up to that point had prepared me for their immensity, having been raised in tidy, fenced farm country of southeastern Pennsylvania. I was drawn into these strange and magic...
Giants in the Earth[i] : Reflections on Chuck Jonkel
April 27, 2017
Last week I attended a memorial for Chuck Jonkel at the Roxy Theater in Missoula, Montana. Charles Joseph Jonkel died over one year ago on April 12, 2016, aged 86, much diminished from his physical and intellectual prime. Of relevance here...
Grizzlies Symbolize Transformation, And Challenge Us to Transform Governance
April 17, 2017
Bears are up and about again, a living announcement of spring. With their miraculous ability to hibernate, bears have always symbolized transformation and renewal (link). A mother bear seemingly dies in winter, interred in the earth, only to re-em...
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
March 23, 2017
A few weeks ago, I offered my perspective on threats to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) under the Trump administration and our current Congress (link). The ESA is critically important, and the reason why we still have a number of species and populations that would oth...
Restoring the Grizzly in the North Cascades: Their Time Has Come
March 13, 2017
One of the few bright spots in today’s otherwise bleak landscape of grizzly bear conservation is a proposal to augment a remnant of grizzlies in the wild country of Washington’s North Cascades. The handful of bears still hanging on there have little chance of recoverin...
Yellowstone Buffaloes' Last Stand
March 6, 2017
Last Tuesday, in the shadow of Yellowstone’s Electric Peak, I watched National Park Service employees herd, prod, shock, immobilize, poke, and corral bison that had only shortly before spent their lives roaming wild. That day, 45 animals w...
The Endangered Species Act: A Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress, Trump
February 24, 2017
The Trump administration and a Republican-held Congress appear poised to unravel the nation’s bedrock environmental laws and programs, including the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The ESA is one of our most effective environmental laws, proven to be vital to protectin...
Fog of Science II: Appling and Oranging Grizzly Bear Numbers
January 19, 2017
There is a quip about comparing apples to oranges. The idiom is typically used to dismissively refer to some benighted person who has tried to compare incommensurable items as a basis for bogus contrasts or trends. Apples are not oranges, so if you have more apples one...
Fog of Science: The Stealth Advocacy of Grizzly Bear Numbers
January 12, 2017
Science is a value-laden and often political process. The proximal means for this dis-objectification can be found in the questions asked, the research funded, the results reported, the interpretations featured, the results selectively applied, and the fra...
Trash Talk: Cooke City Cleans Up Garbage, Saves Bears
January 8, 2017
The press coverage of endangered species management tends to highlight conflicts. “If it bleeds, it leads.” All too rarely we read stories about people coming together to solve shared problems. But one such story related to the recovery of grizzly...
Keep Grizzlies Protected: A New Film About Why Grizzlies Still Need Federal Protection
December 19, 2016
Today marks the release of a film entitled Keep Grizzlies Protected (www.keepgrizzliesprotected.com) by noted filmmakers Anthony Birkholz and Marni Walsh. The film features leading scientists who speak out about threats to the future of the grizzly bear, and ra...
A Grizzly Tribute to John and Frank Craighead
December 15, 2016
Earlier this fall, world-famous scientist and grizzly bear researcher, John Craighead, passed away at the age of 100 at his home in Missoula, Montana. This followed the death of his twin brother Frank in 2001. Together, the Craighead brothers...
3% Is Not Enough: Towards Restoring Grizzly Bears
November 30, 2016
November has offered us more than just the ghastly aftermath of our national elections. We have also been visited by the unseemly spectacle of federal and state wildlife managers rushing helter skelter towards removing Endangered Species Act (ESA)...
What Can We Learn From Romania's Grizzly Experience?
November 24, 2016
In an astonishing move, the government of Romania recently banned trophy hunting of the country’s large carnivores. This was welcome reprieve for the country’s 5,000 or so brown bears (of the same species as grizzly bears), which constitute the...
What's in a Grizzly Name?
November 11, 2016
From the time our hominid ancestors first uttered a semiotic grunt, we humans have been obsessed with categorizing and labeling things. And for good reason. Labels can efficiently convey a large amount of emotionally-resonant information with just a...
Witches, Hillary Hatred and Communities of Hysteria
November 3, 2016
I recently came across a publication by the Pew Research Center reporting on how those supporting Trump and Clinton see each other. Of all categories on either side, college-educated and white-female Clinton-supporters were most likely to “have tr...
2016 Poised To Be Deadliest Yet for Yellowstone Grizzly Bears
October 31, 2016
Many readers might be surprised to learn that in Yellowstone most adult grizzly bears die because a human kills them, and this even with protections afforded by the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). And, as one of the slowest reproducing la...
A Recipe for Killing: The "Trust Us" Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
October 19, 2016
There is a peculiar argument favored by politicians, bank managers, airline representatives, and sales-people of various stripes that goes something like this: “Your interests are important. The customer/voter is my top priority. Trust me.” Such claims will sometimes b...
Tribal Grizzly Bear Treaty Redefines Recovery of the Great Bear
October 10, 2016
Last weekend marked the signing of an historic tribal grizzly bear treaty in Canada and the US. Entitled “The Grizzly: A Treaty of Cooperation, Cultural Revitalization and Restoration,” the treaty was carried from Ottawa to Jackson Hole, where it was signed by traditio...
Tribes Make History with Signing of Grizzly Bear Treaty
September 28, 2016
History for the grizzly bear and Native people will be made next weekend, when Native leaders will sign a grizzly bear treaty, only the third cross-border First Nations/Native American treaty in some 150 years. The treaty will be signed on Friday September 30 in Brocke...
Black Snakes and Grizzly Bears: The Tribes' Fight for Nature
September 26, 2016
In an unprecedented series of events, Tribes from across North America are rising up to protect land, water, and wildlife such as the sacred grizzly bear from degradation by greedy corporations. Last week, in one of th...
Government Threatens Yellowstone Grizzly Bear's Future in Push to Delist
September 19, 2016
On September 7, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) opened yet another month-long period during which the public will have an opportunity to comment on the proposed removal of Endangered Species Act protections for Yellowstone’s grizzly bears (“delisting”) (link). D...
New Fire in the Battle for Yellowstone's Grizzly Bears
September 3, 2016
New fire is burning in the battle for Yellowstone’s grizzly bears. Just a year ago, it appeared the government was going to ramrod the decision to remove Endangered Species Act protections without a whole lot of opposition. But, for many wildlife...
Yellowstone's Grizzly Dead: 2015 Shatters Records for Grizzly Bear Deaths
August 25, 2016
Today, thousands of people are gathered in Yellowstone to celebrate the centennial birthday of the National Parks, which many say is perhaps the best idea that America has ever had. But no one is in Gardiner, Montana, today to mourn the dead. And indeed, most do not k...
States Prove Playground Bullies In Push To Delist Yellowstone Grizzly Bears
August 19, 2016
State wildlife managers from Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho have recently dispelled any illusions about how they intend to treat grizzly bears after wresting management control away from the federal government. Removal of Endangered Species A...
Grizzly Threats: Arbitrary Lines on Political Maps
July 22, 2016
In its proposal to strip protections from Yellowstone grizzly bears, the federal government relies on arguments that habitat protections are in place to sustain a healthy bear population after delisting. These claims made by Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) are gross ex...
Chuck Jonkel: Pioneer, Rebel, Advocate of Bears and the Wild
July 8, 2016
On April 12, Dr. Charles Jonkel, a mentor and hero for nature, passed away. Chuck was a pioneering bear biologist who paved the way for countless researchers and helped bring about a transformation in our understanding of bears and human relations with them. He was an...
Delisting Grizzlies To Save The ESA?
June 23, 2016
A central argument marshalled to justify stripping federal protections from Yellowstone grizzly bears is this: the Fish and Wildlife (FWS) must demonstrate “successes” defined by delisting as many species as possible – and grizzly bears in particular – or Congress will...
Will Lynch Sentence Help Turn Tide for Cabinet Yaak, Northern Rockies Grizzlies?
June 9, 2016
On May 27, Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch rocked the grizzly bear world in an unprecedented sentencing of a man to six months in federal prison for poaching a threatened grizzly bear in the Cabinet Yaak ecosystem last year (link). While the fine of $5,000 was stiff bu...
Disserving the Public Trust II The ethos of state grizzly bear management
May 26, 2016
Most people are familiar with the term worldview. In academe, scholars such as David Naugle (“Worldview”), Jim Sire (“Naming the Elephant”), and Mark Koltko-Rivera (“The Psychology of Worldviews”) have helpfully summarized the history of this pedigreed concep...
Disserving the Public Trust: The despotic future of grizzly bear management
May 19, 2016
Francis Fukuyama of Harvard University recently completed a magisterial two-volume review of the emergence and evolution of human systems of governance. The volumes are somewhat immodestly entitled “The Origins of Political Order” (2...
National Park Service Stands Up For Grizzly Bears And Us, Yet Again
May 13, 2016
On May 10, among the thousands of comments to US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on its proposal to strip Endangered Species Act protections from Yellowstone grizzly bears and allow a trophy sport hunt, was a brief letter from the National Park Service (NPS) that pack...
The Wonderful Wizard and His Dancing Grizzly Bear Numbers
May 5, 2016
The Wizard of Oz is a great story full of the classic characters and elements of a good fantasy. A hardy troupe of protagonists, aided by a self-proclaimed powerful wizard, embarks on quest beset by an evil witch. The 1930’s Hollywood derivative of this story was one o...
Chauvet vs Cheney: Choices in Our Relationships with Grizzly Bears
April 28, 2016
Just two weeks ago, the National Academy of Science published a paper confirming the dates of ancient cave bear paintings at Chauvet Pont D’Arc Cave in southern France. Some of the paintings were dated 37,000 years old, making them the oldest in the world (link). Hund...
Cattle in Grizzly Country
April 21, 2016
In the aspens of Alberta’s foothills, Charlie Russell carefully positions a dead cow among some boulders. Along a low ridge near the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Karl Rappold a...
The Grizzly Bear Moth-Eating Jig
April 14, 2016
Back in 1955, a year after I was born, John Chapman published a paper in the journal Ecology describing a peculiar feeding activity by bears in the Mission Mountains of western Montana. Grizzlies and black bears were bot...
Why Wyoming's Thugs Should Not Be Trusted With Our Grizzly Bears
April 11, 2016
This week, Wyoming held a rash of hearings on the state’s plan to manage grizzly bears if and when federal protections are removed later this year. In the pro-bear bastion around Jackson, where celebrity grizzly bears like 399 and her family make their homes, the m...
Partisan Scientists in Public Service II: The Strange Case of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (continued)
April 7, 2016
Last week I painted a picture of corrupted science behind the current push to remove Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections from Yellowstone’s grizzly bears. On the face of it, there are other...
Partisan Scientists in Public Service I: The Strange Case of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team
March 31, 2016
The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, hereafter the IGBST, was established in 1973 to provide managers and other stakeholders with reliable scientific information relevant to ma...
Yellowstone Buffalo Atrocities
March 24, 2016
This winter, 582 Yellowstone buffalo have been killed, either by hunters or government agents. The killing is escalating as winter drags on and buffalo, desperate for food, leave Yellowstone Park for lower elevation grasslands north in Montana. Hundreds more buffalo c...
The Price Tag of Grizzly Bear Delisting
March 17, 2016
Money and politics have driven decisions about the fate of Yellowstone’s grizzly bears for the last 50 years. You often hear that more is known about Yellowstone grizzly bears than any other population of bears. But the truth is that managers and researchers here hav...
Don't Delist, Risk Yellowstone Grizzly Bears' Future
March 10, 2016
As Yellowstone grizzly bears begin to reemerge from their dens after winter hibernation, they awake to a debate over what may be their first sport hunt in over 40 years. This was triggered by last week’s proposal by US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to remove federal...
Yellowstone's Irreplaceable Grizzlies
March 3, 2016
Imagine a grizzly bear on a cloudy day in May turning over chunks of sod in a wet swale to reveal clots of wriggling earthworms…which it then slurps up. Or, in the next valley over, a bear furiously hopping sideways as it excavates a tunnel in pursuit of an es...
Digging Under Grizzly Graves, Part 2: The Death of 760 and Lessons of 399's Clan
February 25, 2016
Grizzly bears bring joy to countless visitors to Yellowstone and Grand Teton Parks each year – and none more so than Jackson Hole’s delightful clan descended from the photogenic grizzly bear matriarch that researchers gave the number 399.
Digging Under Grizzly Graves: Lessons of the Clan of Grizzly 399
February 18, 2016
Driving along Jackson Lake, distracted by the spectacular view of the Tetons, you might see a dark shape from the corner of your eye. Your 10-year old son yells from the back seat, “Bear!” Then you see the grizzly accompanied by three dog...
Divvying Up the Dead: Grizzly Bears in a Post-ESA World
February 11, 2016
Sigmund Freud made an interesting distinction between two fundamental human drives, one seeking life (Eros) and the other seeking death (Thanatos)—the latter of which can readily spawn the infliction of suffering and death on others
Park Service Stands Up for Grizzlies and Us
February 4, 2016
Last week, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park Superintendents, Dan Wenk and David Vela, spoke out publicly for the first time about their concerns regarding the impact of state-sponsored hunting of grizzly bears that split time between Parks and adjacent non-pa...
Let Them Eat Grizzly Cake
January 28, 2016
According to popular history, Marie Antoinette, Queen of pre-Revolution France, quipped “Let them eat cake” when told that her subjects were starving. The peasants shortly thereafter rendered their verdict on her purported behavior by applying a very sharp blade to the...
The Grizzly Miracle of Birth
January 21, 2016
Right about now, grizzly bear mothers are giving birth to cubs the size of tea cups. The process is nothing short of a miracle. Since time immemorial, we have been fascinated by the ability of bears to disappear into the earth in winter, seemingly die, and reemerge wi...
Hunting to Scare Grizzlies?
January 13, 2016
Kill grizzly bears to make them afraid of humans. This idea has gotten a lot of air time in recent years as one of several justifications for removing endangered species act (ESA) protections for Yellowstone’s grizzlies, most recently in a January 10th editorial by the...
The Politspeak of Social Carrying Capacity
January 7, 2016
As a scholar and social scientist I get really annoyed when concepts are deployed for partisan purposes without regard for intellectual integrity. Having said that, I suspect that most politicians would find my distress silly…which is to be expected of a breed that exi...
Without A Safety Net
December 31, 2015
In Yellowstone, the New Year may ring in a grizzly bear hunt for the first time in 40 years. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has announced the release in January of a new proposal to remove endangered species protections for Yellowstone’s grizzly bears. Removal...
Heavenly Bears, Grizzly Deaths
December 24, 2015
Stars and the heavens capture our imagination this season. No constellation is more famous than the Big Dipper, which is also known as Ursa Major, the Great Bear. In French, Grande Ourse. Italian, Ursa Maggiore. German, Grosse Bar. Ursa Major and its neighbor Ursa Min...
Grizzly Sardine Can Blues
December 17, 2015
We can’t support any more bears. We’ve got bears coming out of our ears. We’ve reached carrying capacity. Such is the purported state of grizzly bears in Yellowstone. Sound familiar? It should. For those of you who have been paying attention to the rhetoric voiced by a...
The Zombie March
December 10, 2015
Zombies have been on my mind lately. No, I have not been seeing too many horror films. I just have been noticing lately how easy it is for all of us to dissociate and become numb to the pain and even the joy of the world in mindless thrall to urges that hurt not only...
Drawing the Line for Bears
December 3, 2015
The beloved Teddy Bear is rooted in surprising controversy. In 1906, the life of the model for the first Teddy Bear was spared by President Theodore Roosevelt. The descendants of the president’s namesake survive mostly in the swamps and hardwood forests of Louisiana a...
Grizzly Bears, Dreaming and the Frontier of Wonder
November 26, 2015
Grizzly bears have been slowing down in recent weeks and denning for the winter. Hibernation comes in the nick of time, as grizzly bears in Yellowstone have been dying in droves this year (link). A few may stay up for a few more weeks or even a month, pursuing the dan...
Are You a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?
November 19, 2015
The Yellowstone Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) meetings of November 3-4 in Teton Village, Wyoming, featured a fascinating analysis by Gregg Losinski of the Idaho Fish and Game Department of recent media coverage about grizzly bears. Among other things, his...
November 12, 2015
In grade school, I was taught that our democratic society depends on citizen access to good information to make good choices. That in order for journalists to serve their function as citizen watchdogs, government must be transparent, both in terms of information used...
You Call This Recovery?
November 5, 2015
Here in Yellowstone the drums are beating: “Grizzly bears are recovered”! With the press push of the government during recent weeks, you might be led to believe that grizzly bears are coming out our ears. So what constitutes recovery anyway? And who decides?
The Grizzly Price of Public Service
October 29, 2015
Arnie Dood does not come across as an environmental crusader. Big, affable, a little on the goofy side, he dutifully worked as a wildlife biologist and manager for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (MTFWP) for about 40 years… Until a few months ago when he paid the price...
License to Kill or Coexist
October 22, 2015
In Yellowstone most grizzly bears die from human causes, and most grizzly bear deaths are avoidable according to the federal government which has protected them since 1975. The spate of 46 grizzly bear deaths thus far this year is shocking, as is the recent rate: an...
Tracking the Grizzly's Number One Killer
October 10, 2015
Mike Kosmrl of the Jackson Hole News and Guide deserves kudos for the detailed article on hunter-caused grizzly bear deaths in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem – now the leading cause of bear mortality (see original article). Despite a precipitous drop in the number...
Reflections on a Yellowstone grizzly tragedy
August 21, 2015
Two weeks ago, in Yellowstone National Park the tragic deaths of Lance Crosby, and a 20 year grizzly mother named Blaze captured national attention. Although Blaze was killed, her two cubs were sent to a zoo – a turn of events that speaks to the passionate connection t...
The warp of time, space and wishful thinking
July 29, 2015
What makes grizzly bear recovery particularly challenging for reporters and the rest of us are the big scales and long time frames involved. With home ranges in the realm of 400 square miles in Yellowstone, grizzly bears cannot be relegated to parks and public lands: l...
Under the Czar’s Shadow
July 22, 2015
It is hard to fathom why the government, which supposedly operates on behalf of the larger public trust, would spin the science and push delisting as it has for over two decades. While we may long speculate on this question, this conundrum poses a particular problem fo...