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...