By Maggie Nutter

      The Grizzly Bears are coming out of their winter sleep. They have been spotted up on the Rocky Mountain Front and will be wandering our way if they are not already here.  In the last few years Grizzly Bears have been spotted along Lake Elwell/Tiber Reservoir, along the Teton River, Marias River, and even down to Loma on the Missouri River. They have been spotted grazing on the plains in alfalfa fields and on clover in pastures.  They are in the towns and colonies and golf courses.

     Marias River Livestock Association will be hosting a series of meeting to share information about Grizzly Bears and to hear the concerns that people living with bears or soon to be living with bears have concerns about. 

     The first “Let’s talk about Bears”   meeting will be held March 28 at 6:30 pm at the Coyote Club and Event Center downstairs meeting room.  The following week, April 4 at 6:30pm the meeting will be in Conrad, at the Pondera Shooting Sports Complex.  April 5 again at 6:30 pm the meeting will be in Valier at the Civic Center.  We hope local people will come and learn from the resource people who will be there, but the main goal is that the FWP, Wildlife Services and Marias River Livestock Association will hear the concerns and issues that citizens have about Grizzly Bears.  

     Gary Bertellotti, FWP Region 4 Supervisor, will give a 10 to 15 minute slide presentation that covers some information like where the Grizzly bear recovery area is and where bears are spreading to as the Federal lands and National Park areas get full.   Bertellotti is also the Chairperson for the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee’s (IGBC), Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem Subcommittee (NCDE).  These committees hold meeting spring and fall and are well worth attending if you want to be in the know about bears.

     APHIS, Wildlife Services staff will say a few words on what their services are in connection with Grizzly Bears and George Edwards from the Livestock Loss Board will try to be on hand.  Erin Edge, Missoula,  and/or Mike Leahy, Bozeman,  who are with the Rocky Mountain and Great  Plains Region Defenders of Wildlife will also be there to answer questions about what they have available to help people live with bears. They have experience with bear fencing, trash containers, and so on.

      Citizens are encouraged to write down their questions, topics of concern, or events and encounters with Grizzlies and bring them to the meetings.  Marias River Livestock would like to compile this information to help with understanding what information needs shared, what actions need taken and how widespread are Grizzly Bear/ livestock/human conflicts.  We are starting the planning of a Bear Fair in June on 2013 that will add more resources and also speak to management steps that can be taken.

      This is Marias River Livestock Associations first step in gathering information on how to help the people in Glacier, Liberty, Pondera, Toole county areas.  With all the information about the growth of the Grizzly Bear population it is likely that they will seen in all four counties again this summer.  Please come and share your thoughts and get your questions answered.