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New Bear-Counting Methods Discussed

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The region’s grizzly bear managers are refining the methods they use to determine the number of bears in the ecosystem as well as their distribution through the ecosystem and food sources. Some of those new methods were discussed during the Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee meeting of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee in Jackson this week. Outgoing Chairperson Mary Gibson Scott says the bear’s expansion beyond its traditional range has not necessarily been good for the bears.  She explains there are bears going beyond the recovery area that she says, “we would consider out-liers where they really, as bear biologists would say, ‘can’t make a living.’ It’s not sustainable, and that’s where we’re seeing bears getting into trouble.”  Scott says then managers have to take management actions. That distribution, she says, will be related now to how the counting will be accomplished. Scott says, previous counts have been quite conservative, and biologists believe there are more bears in the ecosystem than what the official counts showed. The new counting efforts she says will seek methods that give a more accurate count of the animals.  Still, she says from what the bear biologists report, the grizzly bear population here is healthy and resilient.  As a result of the reversal by the 9th District Court of the bear’s delisting, Scott says studies are focusing on the bears’ food synthesis including how much of their diets are dependent of pine nuts or moths or other traditional food sources. She explains the basis for that reversal was to learn more information about what the composition of the grizzly bear foods are.  At the end of the meeting, Scott turned the leadership of the committee over to Tom Ryder of Wyoming Game of Fish who has served as the Vice Chair for the past two years.

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