Wilson has more thoughts on North Fork grizzly situation

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I was not surprised when I heard that the grizzly in Donaldson’s Meadow had been trapped and relocated. In fact, I thought it should have been done two or three weeks earlier. Now, I wonder whether it is wise to relocate a heavily habituated bear into Glacier Park where the only people are hikers with little chance to escape in an attack. Big test for bear spray – if you have time to use it.

I was surprised to head about the two bears that were killed. I do have a lot of faith in Tim Manley and that he hates to kill bears unless absolutely necessary. So, I spent some time in Polebridge taking with folks who frequent the townsite.

According to locals, these two “cubs” had been getting into garbage and cars most of the summer. The mother bear always hung back and was not involved. One resident told me that these bears could actually open car doors if they were unlocked. They were known to have acquired food from coolers left in vehicles as well as ripping up a variety of garbage bags left outside. Surprisingly, no one admitted to calling bear management officials. One resident said they were afraid of what would happen to the bears if they were reported. Dumb move?

If reported early, the bears might have been saved, either by aversive conditioning or by being relocated. By becoming food-conditioned, their fate was sealed.

Big question is: How do we avoid these conflicts in the future? Obviously, more or better education is needed. As we have more and more summer rentals, we have more and more folks who do not know how to react in bear country. It is vital that all possible food be kept secure from bears. That included all food, pet and human, and all garbage be kept inside the house or high up in the air out of a bear’s reach, or in some other bear-proof container.

It would be prudent for all rental cabins, Forest Service and private, to post needed bear aware information inside the rentals. Also, information posted at all campgrounds and public businesses would be helpful.

Some wildfires are caused by careless humans and I suspect careless humans will always create bear problems. Even so, let’s try to reduce bear fatalities and human injury by making every possible effort to educate ourselves and others how to live in the backcountry – even if it is just for one night.

I know Richard Wackrow doesn’t like reading about parties I attend, but I want to let North Forkers who couldn’t be here know that the Caldwell Halloween Party was a big success again. The food was great, costumes were terrific and it is always good to see friends and neighbors. Special treat again this year was Angie Agnew’s new Weimaraner puppy named Sugar. She and I had a great time between puppy naps and potty breaks!

If we survive the hunting season, the next big party is Thanksgiving at Sondreson Hall. This annual party is again hosted by Steve Berg and usually attracts over 80 people. Hope to see you all there – even all of the Richards!

Larry Wilson’s North Fork Views appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.

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