Montana News – July 5, 2017

Two grizzlies captured near Whitefish

On June 22 and 23, two young grizzly bears were captured about 10 miles northwest of Whitefish along the Stillwater River. The 2.5 years old siblings were captured after landowners had reported they were trying to get into a dog kennel to get dog food. A few days earlier, neighbors to the south reported bears had killed chickens on their property but felt it was black bears and not grizzly bears. Their scats were also full of sunflower seeds indicating they had been getting access to bird feeders in the area. Traps were set at both places and only the two grizzly bears were captured.

This was a first time capture for both bears. The first bear captured was a 172 lb female and her 200 lb male sibling was captured the next night. The bears were probably left in the area by the adult female that went off to breed. Grizzly bears typically kick off their two year old cubs during June, which is the peak of breeding season.

The decision was made to translocate the bears to different locations. The female was relocated to the upper Good Creek drainage in the Salish Range. The male was released in Deep Creek along the east side of Hungry Horse Reservoir. Both bears were fitted with GPS radio collars so their movements could be monitored.

Residents are reminded to secure attractants such as garbage, pet food, livestock feed, and bird seed. Pick your fruit when it is ripe and protect your fruit trees, livestock, and poultry with electric fencing. In Montana, it is illegal to feed bears and ungulates. This includes putting out grain and deer blocks.


Utah couple injured by bison in Yellowstone

A husband and wife from Utah were injured last week when a bison butted them in Yellowstone National Park. The animal reportedly pushed 72-year-old Patsy Holmes into her husband, 74-year-old Theodore Schrader. Holmes was flown to a hospital, where she was listed in stable condition. Schrader suffered only minor injuries.


Eureka’s Graves commits to Grizz

Eureka quarterback Garrett Graves, who just completed his junior year of high school with state championships in football and wrestling, has verbally committed to play football for the University of Montana beginning in 2018.


FWP kills two grizzlies near Stanford

Two sub-adult male grizzly bears were euthanized by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Monday morning after livestock depredation events during the weekend west of Stanford.

The two bears were siblings and had been seen south of the Missouri River, south east of Great Falls several times during the past few weeks. The bears killed four calves late Friday night or early Saturday morning. This was the first time the two bears had killed livestock.

When the depredation was reported, FWP and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services responded in a joint effort to capture the bears. One bear was caught in a snare. The other bear was darted in the open field. Both were handed over to FWP, who then proposed euthanizing the bears to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is the federal agency with oversight responsibilities for grizzly bears.

The two bears are part of the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem population, which is currently still listed on the Endangered Species List, though populations in the NCDE have surpassed recovery goals set by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Grizzly bears in the NCDE have been moving out from the Rocky Mountain Front and onto the plains west of Great Falls for the last few years, with some bears pushing further east each year. The two males killed Monday mark the farthest grizzly bears have been seen east of the Rocky Mountain Front in more than a century.

The bears were 2.5 years-old and weighed a little less than 300 pounds. As the public reported sightings of the bears over the past few weeks, FWP biologists and wardens visited with landowners and ranchers inquiring about conflicts and advising people on keeping attractants safely put away.

Last Thursday about 14 miles west of where the bears killed the four calves, FWP biologists set traps trying to capture the bears. The effort was unsuccessful as the two grizzlies pushed further east.


Western governors meet in Whitefish

Governors from 10 western states gathered last week in Whitefish for the annual meeting of the Western Governors Association. The governors discussed issues of forest management, energy, and trade with Canadian officials and hosted several issues-based roundtable discussions with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.


Fagg forms exploratory committee

Billings-area judge Russ Fagg has formed an exploratory committee to gauge potential support for a 2018 bid to unseat Sen. Jon Tester. Fagg recently announced his retirement from the bench, but won’t officially leave office until October in order to complete his current case load, according to a June 26, 2017, press statement.


Olszewski represents Montana at healthcare forum

Dr. Al Olszewski, state senator and Republican candidate for Montana’s 2018 US Senate election, was selected as Montana’s project leader to improve the delivery of healthcare in rural Montana at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Symposium on Rural Healthcare Challenges.

Delegates from across the nation gathered to discuss the challenges and innovations in rural health policy at the symposium that was held in Denver, Colorado, from June 21 through June 23.

Sen. Olszewski led Montana’s delegation in engaging seven other states that are dealing with challenges of access to quality healthcare and delivery outside of their major cities and towns. Experiences within the respective states were shared and analyzed. Best practices from across the country were also studied. As Montana’s project leader, Sen. Olszewski will be responsible for the continued research and implementation of rural healthcare strategies.



FWP honors bowhunting educators

Region One Hunter and Bowhunter Education Instructors received service awards from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks at a special statewide workshop held June 23-25 at the fairgrounds in Helena.  In total, more than 300 people from across Montana attended the workshop.

For Region One, a total of 54 Instructors were due Hunter Education or Bowhunter Education service awards ranging from 5 to 60 years of service. All service award recipients receive a plaque; additional awards include: 10 years: engraved knife; 20 years: FWP belt buckle; 30 year bowhunter education awards, honorarium to purchase a bow or firearm; 40-year: hunter education, monogramed jacket and plaque; and 60-year special awards.  The instructor of the year and challenge coin recipients were also honored.

The highlight of the Saturday night awards ceremony for Region 1 was the honoring of Pat McVay of Kalispell and Bob Larsson of St. Ignatius for their incredible 60 years of service teaching Hunter Education.  Awards that Pat and Bob received included an American Flag which was flown over the capitol building and folded into a presentation case.  The flags came with a signed proclamation from Montana Governor Steve Bullock.  Pat and Bob also each received a presentation lever action rifle from Henry Arms which was engraved with special serial numbers and a hunter education instructor inscription along with the FWP logo.  Each rifle was fitted with a special sight by Skinner Sights, installed by Bob’s son Andy.  Bob and Pat received several standing ovations and their family members spoke about their dedication to teaching kids and to firearm safety.

A special presentation was made to Bowhunter Education Instructors who have taught 40 years, starting even before the official state program began.  Region One’s recipient, Rich Hjort, has been teaching in the Libby area for all those years.  Rich also received his 40-year Hunter Education Award, an amazing length of time to serve hunter education students.

Region One Bowhunter Education Awards for 30 years of service were given to Roger Allick, Pat Allick, Terry Comstock, Rich Hjort, Lloyd Rice, and Dave Yeats.  These instructors have been teaching since the official state program for Bowhunter Education began!

Another highlight this year was the Instructor of the Year Award presented to Tom Fieber, a hunter education instructor from Polson.  For 8 years, Tom has led the hunter education program in north Lake County.  He has overseen many dozens of classes and is the liaison with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes for hunter education.  Tom has kept his instructors up to speed with the latest teaching techniques.

A number of instructors were awarded challenge coins.  These presentations are important because the instructors who received them were nominated by their peers for this honor. These instructors included: Gary Britton, Russ Harbin, Hannah Bass, Chad Wermer, Larry Keyes, Bob Upton, and R.J. Devitt.

The rest of the 2017 Service Awards span hundreds of years of experience.  They represent an incredible legacy of service to Montana’s youth:

35- year Hunter Education Award: Jim Crepeau, Lake County

30-year Hunter Education Award: James Sprunger, Flathead County, Ed Winebrenner, Sanders County.

25-year Hunter Education Award: Lonny Quimby and Frank Ricker, Flathead County; Virgil Rinke, Lake County

20-year Hunter Education Awards: Rod Day, Peter Drowne, Patrick, Wade, and Penny Fish; Jeremy Plummer, Brian Sommers, and Tim Stoddard, all of Flathead County; Ed Feruzzi, Lincoln County.

15-year Hunter Education Awards: Richard Bondy, Lake County; Jeffrey Hipkins, Missoula County; Robert (Danny) Larsson, Lake County.

All Hunter and Bowhunter Education Instructors are volunteers for FWP.  They provide safety, ethics, and firearms and archery equipment handling training to young students across Montana.  In Region One (northwest Montana) more than 300 instructors train about 2,000 students each year.