Now that the Department of Interior announced the recovery and imminent delisting of grizzly bears near Yellowstone Park, wildlife officials are eying the growing grizzly population in northwest Montana.
The Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) stretches from the Canadian border and follows the Northern Rockies to east of Missoula, Montana. It covers more than 42,000 square miles and includes Glacier National Park, five national forests, four wilderness areas and is home to an estimated 1,000 grizzly bears.
Grizzlies are expanding their range onto Montana prairies where they have not been in hundreds of years. And that is causing conflict and concern.
“We can’t grow the town. Our elementary school has a sign that says beware of bears,” Ray Bukoveckas, the mayor of Valier, told Montana Public Radio. “If I had elementary school children, would I want to send them to that school? Probably not.”
Wildlife officials are expected to delist grizzlies in the NCDE by 2020.
(Photo credit: Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks & U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)