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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Celebrated outdoor writer Rick Bass has to be on pins and needles as the status of the remaining 40 or so Yaak Grizzlies is debated in Federal Court...............Bass who was a resident of the Yaak, USA'S most wildest terrain, has written passionately for two decades about northwestern Montana, the locale of the Yaak-Cabinet ecosystem..............This storied land is a lynchpin territory in the Crown of the Continent system that runs North into Canada...............Here in the Yaak, and running north into Canada, the Griz hangs on, Gray Wolves, Wolverines Pumas, and the entire array of fauna that greeted the first Europeans coming West still remains..........."The Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem is one of four grizzly bear recovery zones in and around Montana, and the smallest with an active bear population"............. "The Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem and Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem each contain more than 800 grizzlies, while the Bitterroot Ecosystem has no known bears although it’s historically prime grizzly habitat(President Bush the younger, stopped a planned rewilding of Griz into the Bitteroot)....So, will the Judge hearing the case for critical habitat designation for the Griz here rule in favor of such while the simultaneous discussion continues at the USFW Service as to whether to delist protections for the Greater Yellowstone and The Northern Continental Divide populations?.........Somehow, it is always one step forward and two steps back when it comes to carnivore rewilding and sustainability.................As I noted in yesterdays blog,,,,,,,,,,,,,not what the Creator had in mind when he told Noah to gather up all the animals, whether they posed a threat to us human animals or not


Cabinet-Yaak grizzly bears get day in court

Rob Chaney, The Missoulian, Feb 16, 2017

Whether grizzly bear numbers in northwest Montana are stable, shrinking or growing, both sides of a lawsuit over their federal status agree there aren’t enough of them.
But lawyers for the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and the U.S. Government could not agree why the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service switched its recommendation from “warranted but precluded” for more protection under the federal Endangered Species Act to a designation indicating the bear population was close to recovery. The two sides argued before U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen in Missoula on Thursday.

Rebecca Smith of the Public Interest Defense Center represented AWR, and argued the federal agency was breaking a 20-year position – that the Cabinet-Yaak bears deserved more protection – by suddenly announcing it was lowering the bear’s status.
On Dec. 5, 2014, FWS “abruptly changed course and published a finding that the Cabinet-Yaak grizzly bear is ‘not warranted’ for listing as an endangered species,” Smith wrote in her brief to Christensen. “The agency’s conduct also indicates that the agency has no intention to recover or provide critical habitat for the Cabinet-Yaak grizzly bear, but instead intends to play administrative keep-away with the necessary protections for the Cabinet-Yaak grizzly bear for as long as possible, possibly until the population simply goes extinct.”

  1. The Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem is one of four grizzly bear recovery zones in and around Montana, and the smallest with an active bear population. The Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem and Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem each contain more than 800 grizzlies, while the Bitterroot Ecosystem has no known bears although it’s historically prime grizzly habitat.
Smith argued that between 2007 and 2014, grizzlies in the Cabinet-Yaak dropped from 47 bears to 41 – a 13 percent decline. FWS’ minimum population necessary for recovery in the 2.4-million acre region is 100 bears.
Department of Justice attorney Ricky Turner represented the Department of Interior and its U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Turner agreed Cabinet-Yaak grizzlies haven’t reached recovery. But the population has moved from the brink of extinction to threatened status, and their numbers have been stable or growing in recent years.

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“I’m not impressed with the numbers here,” Christensen warned. “There’s been slight improvement, but we’re still talking about 44 to 48 bears. I’m not as enthusiastic about those numbers as you are. Maybe you can change my mind on that.”
Smith and Turner interpreted the same trend in opposite ways. Smith insisted that with fewer than 50 bears, the loss of one or two females could turn a stable population into a falling one. Turner maintained that the Fish and Wildlife Service was the agency in charge of the science, and if it said the trend was good, Smith hadn’t offered anything to prove it wasn’t.
Christensen added that both sides seemed to be avoiding “the elephant in the room” – the chance that changing the grizzly’s status might require a designation of critical habitat. Currently, the Cabinet-Yaak bears’ status doesn’t require FWS to make such a designation, which would require any other land manager to consider the bear’s needs before making any changes such as a timber sale, road construction or mine expansion.
Smith replied the critical habitat requirement would occur – if FWS got the funding to move the grizzly from its “warranted but precluded” status to actual “endangered” status. She said the whole crux of the case was the agency’s position for 20 years that the bear deserved more protection, before reversing course in 2014 and declaring it needed less.
“Even if what they say is true, they’re using the exact same facts for either conclusion,” Smith said. She called that the definition of “arbitrary and capricious.”
Turner countered that the grizzly’s original “threatened” status was made before the agency adopted a new policy mandating critical habitat designations, so that should not be an issue. He also argued that Smith was calling for a new interpretation of the science, which was the agency’s job.
Christensen did not rule on the matter after Thursday’s hearing.

The Yaak Valley of northwestern Montana is one of the last great wild places in the United States, a land of black bears and grizzlies, wolves and coyotes, bald and golden eagles, and even a handful of humans. But its magic may not be enough to save it from the forces threatening it now. In The Book of Yaak Rick Bass captures the soul of the valley itself, and he shows how, if places like the Yaak are lost, so too will be the human riches of mystery and imagination


An urgent plea by a longtime resident to preserve one of the lower 48's remaining wilderness areas. Nestled where Idaho, Montana, and Alberta, Canada, meet, the Yaak Valley--the name means ``arrow'' in Kootenai--is a treasure vault of old-growth pine, spruce, and Douglas fir. It is also a prime target for the logging industry, which now seeks to open the Yaak to clearcut logging. 
Bass (The Lost Grizzlies, 1995, etc.) is scandalized by this possibility, especially inasmuch as the US Forest Service subsidizes such logging ``to the tune of one or two billion dollars per decade'' and ``timber companies working on public lands in the West continue to post record quarterly profits for their stockholders''--precisely because of the government's largess. 
This well-written, impatient, often polemical book urges that the Yaak, and other wild places, be set aside from economic development, and Bass's program is modest: ``I want,'' he writes, ``the last few roadless areas in this still-wild valley to remain that way.'' 
He also celebrates the power of wilderness to inspire the meditative, simple life: ``I practice going slow,'' he says, ``at a pace that can be sustained. I practice looking around at things.'' He also introduces us to neighbors who have found a special solace in the deep woods. Bass argues that most Montanans and Idahoans oppose any further destruction of their backyard wilderness and demonstrates how important old-growth forest is to the health of the entire ecosystem.
 Much of this will be familiar territory to readers who know Bass's work, for he has written about the Yaak before in books like Winter (1991) and The Ninemile Wolves (1992). Even so, this is a valuable document in the continuing battle over wilderness preservation.

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