Some readers think I am too critical of the management agencies. After all, we have to live with them and we can’t really control them, so we should not antagonize them. I think that attitude amounts to appeasement at its worst. Why would things get better if we ignore incompetence or stupidity? Besides, the agencies sometimes get it right and I feel they are trying to get it right even when they do something stupid.
A recent case of getting it right is the new Flathead Forest Plan. That complicated plan was created by local forest officials who were aware of local conditions and who listen to local concerns and adopted many of them. Perhaps their most important accomplishment was getting the big shots in Washington to agree with their plan. I’m not so sure that the Washington decree to allow e-bikes into the backcountry will be successful. Maybe there should have been some public discussion before this new bike policy was adopted.
Another agency plus was the recent bear fair at Polebridge. A year ago, four grizzlies were creating a stir in Polebridge. In the end, one left the area, one was relocated to Glacier Park and two were killed.
The village of Polebridge was upset, especially over the two who were killed, and locals realized their deaths were at least partially due to people leaving food rewards out, which habituated the bears and contributed to their deaths.
Debo Powers and Flannery Coats, president and vice president of the North Fork Preservation Association, decided the community needed bear education and set about organizing a bear fair.
The bear fair was a rousing success! With Tim Manley of Fish Wildlife and Parks, along with Glacier Park and the Flathead Forest, providing movies and great information displays, vendors of bear-proof garbage cans and bear spray, the educational program was complete. To top it off, the event was well attended by locals and supported by the Northern Lights Saloon and the Polebridge Merc with a great cold lunch.
Due to the presence of habituated bears, it is not as safe to camp out as it once was.
Even the kids sleeping in a tent in your yard is more risky than it was when I was young. That is why I favor delisting the big bear. Bears are smart and would quickly learn if it was no longer safe to be around humans. It is only a matter of time until someone gets hurt or killed beside the habituated bear. Action now could prevent that.
What to you think?
Larry Wilson’s North Fork Views appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.