Grizzlies in Lower 48 to

retain threatened status

Future for bears still in flux as new U.S. Fish and Wildlife leadership develops strategy.

Courtesy of
Montana Free Press
by Amanda Eggert


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which administers the Endangered Species Act, is recommending that grizzly bears in the Lower 48 retain threatened status in the near-term, following the recent release of a five-year status review.

According to the report, grizzly bears in two regions — the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem — have made strong strides toward biological recovery, but concerns about limited habitat connectivity, human-caused mortality, motorized vehicle use in grizzly habitat, and uncertainty surrounding future conservation efforts factored into the decision to keep grizzly bears in the Lower 48 listed.

Agency spokesperson Joe Szuzwalak said FWS is still deciding on next steps following the report’s release. He said new leadership in the Biden administration is “just getting their hands around those issues.”

“We’ll hopefully have next steps on that in the coming months,” he said.

Szuzwalak also said FWS has been tracking a bill before the U.S. Senate that aims to delist bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, but won’t be taking a position on the measure as a federal agency.

Animals protected under the Endangered Species Act are typically delisted through FWS rulemaking, though there is precedent for delisting a species via Congressional action: gray wolves in Idaho and Montana were delisted in 2011 after Congress passed a budget bill rider sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, and Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho.

The report’s release was met with frustration by the Center for Biological Diversity, a nonprofit environmental group that’s been active in grizzly bear management issues for more than a dozen years. They say the plan lacks specificity and is overdue. (Assessments are supposed to be released every five years, but prior to this one, the agency hadn’t released one since 2011.)

“It’s frustrating that federal officials failed to provide specific and updated recovery recommendations in this long-overdue analysis of the grizzly bear’s progress toward recovery,” said CBD senior attorney Andrea Zaccardi in a press release emailed to Montana Free Press.

The report estimates that the Greater Yellowstone grizzly population numbers about 740, the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem has about 1,070 grizzlies, and there are 60 or fewer in the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem. An estimated 53 bears roam the U.S. portion of the Selkirk Ecosystem. British Columbia’s estimate is still in progress. No known population exists in the Bitterroots or North Cascades.

The agency estimates there once were as many as 50,000 grizzly bears roaming the Lower 48. The bears currently occupy about 6% of their historic range in the contiguous U.S., an area that spanned 18 states stretching from Washington to Oklahoma.


Billings native Amanda Eggert covers

environmental issues for MTFP. Amanda is a graduate of the University of Montana School of Journalism who has written for Outside

magazine and Outlaw Partners. At Outlaw Partners she led coverage for the biweekly newspaper Explore Big Sky.
(Find more at montanafreepress.org)

Woods, Wings & Waterfowl Outing

On Saturday, April 17, the Libby Hostel Base Camp will be sponsoring “Woods, Wings, and Waterfowl,” a day of exploring and identifying Rocky Mountain vegetation along with local and migrating birds and diversified species of waterfowl.

Participants will meet at the Riverfront Park timber shelter on the southwest side of the Kootenai River Bridge in Libby at 9 a.m.
The group will discuss a few birding tips and then head to the field. Participants will take their own vehicle and practice safe spacing as we visit roadside stops and viewpoints, take short walks into private land sites, and wander amidst river and lakeside views.

Please come prepared for the day with a full gas tank, appropriate clothing (class will transpire rain or shine), lunch, water, binoculars and spotting scopes.

Interested parties must register in advance. Space is limited. Please contact Brian via email at b_baxter53@yahoo.com, or call 406-291-2154.
Class will wrap up at approximately 3 p.m. For accommodations if needed, visit https:www.airbnb.com or email brivo4ka@gmail.com.

Experienced Instructors, informative, and fun!

The Heritage Museum of Libby
Seeking volunteers for 2021 season

Are you interested in sharing or learning skills, meeting new people, & giving-back or paying- it-forward to your community? 


Out-of-town visitors are
amazed by Libby’s
“Hidden Gem, The Heritage Museum”
and we hope to welcome many visitors in the Summer of 2021.


Volunteers of all ages have been
essential in keeping the Museum open and completing projects for over fourty-seven years.

Day(s) & hour(s) for our volunteers remain negotiable and “handy persons” are always welcome to assist with the following positions, projects, & MORE:


One Board Member currently being
– will be elected to a four-year term beginning in June 2021; must be a current Museum member and have attended three monthly Board meetings during the previous twelve months (June 2020-June 2021) to qualify.

*Board meetings are third Monday of each month at 6 p.m. in the cookhouse. Meetings are open to the public!


Model T’s Committee Chair – to lead repair, maintenance and exhibit of the four Model T’s (3 motors are restored), along with the museum’s Hyster, and Buffalo Fire Engine; must report to monthly Board meetings in person or in writing.


Front Desk/Gift Shop Greeters –volunteers are separated from public by plexiglass and we follow all current health and mask mandates. This can be great fun to do with a friend!

Spend time with your friend and cover for each other if you need an hour or day off; call someone from the list of substitutes.

Shifts run 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and 1:30-5 p.m. seven days per week from mid-May to mid-September.

The public will greatly appreciate that you are there, despite the pandemic – they told us so last Fall when we were open. We provide you with training, a checklist, a “desk book” and an emergency telephone number if you have questions.


1906 Shay Locomotive – firebox is rebuilt; wheels & axels are ready to add to front and rear trucks. Help is needed to rebuild the boiler and the frame alongside our volunteers and contractor; see “Shay” updates on our website under Exhibits.


Historical Artifacts (local)
computer data entry of information
regarding incoming artifacts in the
Archives room.


1939 Chet’s Service Station Garage – carpenters needed to refurbish it to exhibit local Libby artifacts (currently in storage because we are out of exhibit space); it will sit on an existing cement pad next to the renovated yellow service station.


Roof on 12-sided and 47-year-old
Museum Log Building –
we need to remove the existing leaking roof and wood frame, then haul it to the dump this summer (as our contribution to the grant of our MT Historic Preservation grant application has been approved).


If you are interested in volunteering at any time or in any way this year, contact the museum with your area of interest and we will promptly get back to you with more information.

The Heritage Museum is located at 34067 U.S. Highway 2 in Libby.

All mail correspondence can be sent to: The Heritage Museum, P.O. Box 628, Libby, Mont., 59923.

Those looking for more information may call (406) 293-7521.


The Museum will be holding its “Opening Day Celebration,” combined with our annual springtime “Vendor Blender,” in outdoor fashion this year on Saturday, May 15, so be sure to mark your calendar.

Please stop by to see our new “National Historic Places” plaque by the front door, too. We look forward to seeing you at the Museum!


A cement slab next for the Chet’s Service Station at The Heritage Museum awaits construction work.  The museum hopes to refurbish the station and utilize it for an exhibit of local Libby artifacts.  (Photos courtesy of Heritage Museum)