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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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Sunday, August 5, 2018

"On July 21 of this year, Montana Wildlife and Parks trapped and relocated a young grizzly bear in the Cabinet Mountains near the Montana-Idaho border, adding the 120-pound male to the small but growing population of "isolated" grizzlies in the state’s northwest corner"................ "The bear became the 20th grizzly moved to the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem through an augmentation program launched in 1990 to save the population and boost genetic diversity"................ "All biological markers point to the fact these bears would already have "blinked out without this augmentation program".................."In 1988, biologists estimated that fewer than 10 grizzly bears remained even though the Cabinet-Yaak spans 1,000 square miles in the Yaak River drainage and 1,600 square miles in the Cabinet Mountains".................. "Thankfully, today, as many as 55 grizzly bears now reside here"..............."However,The Cabinet-Yaak Gizzlies will continue to be "zoo-like", captive creatures, unless we can create natural open space travel linkages connecting bears from the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem to the Cabinet-Yaak"................The big challenge with this "connection strategy is that the human-wildlife interface continues to get more dense where corridors are desperately needed"................. "Even within the Cabinet-Yaak, there is scant internal linkage, with few instances of grizzlies migrating between the Cabinets and the Yaak"................"One positve occurrence is that a 2012 conservation project added 28,000 acres of prime wildlife habitat to the lower Kootenai River Valley".........."This habitat addition is near Troy and tracks along the Cabinet Mountains and the Yaak and Kootenai rivers, stretching from the south end of Bull Lake, north through the Lake Creek drainage to Troy, and then northwest along both sides of the Kootenai River to the Idaho border"............."If a NCDE/Cabinet Yaak linkage can be created, biologists estimate that a minimum of 100 Grizzlies could call the Cabinet-Yaak home".............. "Over time, the bears will link with surrounding but separate ecosystems, including the Bitterroot Mountains to the south, the Northern Continental Divide to the east and British Columbia to the north"..................“The ultimate goal is to see bears move into the Cabinet Mountains and reproduce".................. 'We haven’t seen documented gene flow or reproduction, and only in the last few years have we seen minimal movement into the Cabinet Mountains"

Young Grizzly Bear Moved to Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem to Help Boost Population

Augmentation program preserving population, genetic diversity

The augmentation program continues to be a success in an ecosystem that saw its grizzly bear population nearly vanish 30 years ago. In 1988, biologists estimated fewer than 15 grizzly bears remained in the Cabinet-Yaak, which spans approximately 1,000 square miles in the Yaak River drainage and 1,620 square miles in the Cabinet Mountains.
“Knowing what we know now from sampling, I think that was actually a very generous estimate. The number of bears were probably in the single digits,” Wayne Kasworm, grizzly bear biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem Program, stated in the press release.

The 6 designated Grizzly Bear conservation areas created by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Today, thanks largely to the augmentation program that Kasworm helped establish, there is an estimated 55-60 grizzly bears in the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem, with a projected growth rate of 2.1 percent annually.
Illustrating the intent and success of the program, the third bear moved through augmentation, a female in 1993, is responsible for at least 25 descendants through three generations. That female produced at least 10 first-generation offspring, which gave rise to at least 14 additional grizzly bears, and among those at least one offspring and counting.
“We are trying to increase the genetic structure of the population by bringing in unrelated individuals with no history of conflict,” Kim Annis, FWP grizzly bear management specialist, stated in the release. “We have a really good family tree for the Cabinet Mountains that shows we might possibly have lost the population altogether without having continued this augmentation program.”

Irene, officially known as Bear 286, was instrumental to the success of the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem grizzly augmentation program. Relocated from British Columbia in 1993, she eventually bore nine cubs. In 2009, a camera trap captured this image of Irene with two yearlings. The line across the middle of the frame is barbed wire meant to snag bear fur to be used for DNA testing; the pile of sticks between the young bears hides a lure.

Wayne Kasworm/USFWS

The recovery goal is 100 grizzly bears in the Cabinet-Yaak and hopefully over time the animals will link with surrounding yet separate ecosystems, the Selkirk to the west, the Northern Continental Divide to the east, the Bitterroot to the south, and British Columbia to the north.
“The ultimate goal is to see bears move into the Cabinet Mountains and reproduce. We haven’t seen documented gene flow or reproduction, and only in the last few years have we seen minimal movement into the Cabinet Mountains,” Kasworm said. “That’s another step forward.”
The gender ratio of bears shows a slight preponderance of females in the Cabinet-Yaak, and while research shows that makes have been moving back and forth between the Yaak and Cabinets in recent years, the movement hasn’t resulted in reproduction.
“We don’t want to be moving bears with a pick-up truck forever. We want to encourage natural movement to help with gene flow and growing the population,” Kasworm told the Beacon. “That hasn’t really happened yet.”
Part of the problem is that the male grizzlies are moving between the main Cabinet Mountains and the Yaak during the fall rather than in spring, when breeding occurs. Another issue preventing reproduction could be the young bears aren’t yet competitive enough to successfully mate.
“Not only do you have to be there and be a competitive male, but you have to be there at the right time,” Kasworm said.

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