Doctoral Grief: what to pack to Your bear Investigation — 100 days to the doctorate & past

Doctoral distress and deadline anxiety love company. So I must mention I was slightly relieved to hear from a fellow traveller with this journey she also was having end issues.

To put this in perspective, I’m not speaking about a few legendary PhD slacker who spends the times on a scholarship playing Solitaire on your computer. Although I have heard that they exist…

No, this lady a moved self-starter who presents at conferences around the globe, publishes and educates. When she sends me an email saying that she’s in the last two weeks — and also fearful to count the times — and things aren’t moving as swiftly, or as easily as she would like, I understand that feeling.

Yes, I’m having what she’s having. And that is the panic of the final part of the travel. It’s no more about devising ideas, drafting version of this thesis, studying and commenting on journal articles — it’s not about writing articles or conference papers.

Hell no, this is the true thing. That is panic. That is what sports stars must feel before the race begins.

It has nothing to do with competence; it is all a mind game today, in precisely the exact same manner that writing fiction is truly a mind sport. That is what internationally Best-selling writer Douglas Kennedy must say about it about it:

“Composing is a confidence trick you play on yourself… and yet one that you have to perpetuate on a daily basis.”

I’d recommend reading Kennedy’s blog: “left handed writing, ideal handed thoughts” to get an insight into so many facets of the writing life — optimism tricks, completion, and the fascination with which he observes people and the planet and weaves that into his books. No, he’s not in my own doctoral bibliography — no mutants here, only an acute ability at producing the intricacies of the human condition. Occasionally a little respite in the Gothic is called for….

As for my friend? She reads, “I shall look forward to seeing you all on the opposite side of this PhD, although I could barely imaging what that area might look like!”

I had her trapped for an effortless finish and’m now somewhat relieved I’m not the only one tearing my hair out. Right now, nothing I write sounds profound enough or sounds scholarly enough…yes, it is the inevitable descent into the Valley Of Shit. That is something which Dr Mewburn wrote eloquently in her Thesis Whisper site qualified — The Valley of Shit.

The Thesis Whisperer is a newspaper style blog dedicated to helping research students, and can be edited by Dr Inger Mewburn  director of research training at that the ANU.

I fulfilled Inger when she was operating at RMIT and she asked me to contribute some sites to her website, that I was happy to perform — you can read them here.

I’ve got a theory that any moment spent studying The Thesis Whisperer is not procrastination, but really a thinly disguised therapy session….

Inger writes: “There are a few signs you’re entering in the Valley of Shit. You can start to think your whole project is misconceived or you don’t have the ability to do it justice. Or maybe you seriously wonder if what you have done is great enough and get started feeling like what you have found is clear, dull and insignificant.”

Indeed, the photo that accompanies today’s blog was taken on a trip to my father’s village in northern Greece. It appears to sum this up particular state of mind absolutely. Since I cannot talk a word of Greek, the signals did not really help me as we started to trek the mountain. When I have lost, I couldn’t ask for support. That’s what The Valley of Shit feels like — you can see in the signs which you’re there, but you don’t understand what they say, also don’t understand how to get out.

If you also have this smelly place, you simply need to do what I’m doing, and believe there is light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe because I’m a fiction writer, I’m well-used to walking through The Valley of Shit, and understand there are three things you can do — don’t lose your nerve, keep on functioning, and believe in your own ability.

Since Douglas Kennedy says about being a novelist:  “Actually Once You’ve hit the twenty five per cent mark, are you willing to take the fact that, even when others think you have arrived as a novelist, some genuinely good and serious authors knows one central truth of this calling, this livelihood: you never arrive.     You just keep on working.”

That’s right — only keep on functioning. That’s all you can do when you strike The Valley of Shit — take comfort in knowing everyone completing their doctorate probably ends up here, and probably makes out alive. You only need to keep on working.

I’m reminded of a book I used to read my boys when they were small — , by Michael Rosen. I loved this book even more than that they did, as it seemed to sum up the significance of persistence so perfectly. I’d bounce the children in my knee and sing along with the staff on Playschool:

“We’re going on a bear hunt…we are likely to catch a big one. What a beautiful day, we are not scared! Uh oh a river — a deep cold river! We can not go over it, we can not go underneath it — oh no! We have got to really go via it….”

Who wants the philosophy according to Pooh? I’ll take Rosen daily. Very good luck!

Activists debate Native bear hunting

Congressional debate about Alaska hunting rules in April brought a spotlight on a little-understood Alaska Native method of hunting bears in dens.

At a November meeting in Anchorage, the problem pitted Alaska Native students new from a class on the best way best to defend traditional hunting practices against animal rights activists by Florida drawn to Alaska by an obscure article of law which states it’s permissible under specific circumstances to kill bear cubs.

Harvesting a bear throughout its winter hibernation is a way to find new bear meat in the winter. It’s recognized under Alaska subsistence hunting rules as a “customary and traditional use” of black bears in six Alaska game management units at the southern and western Interior.

The search was widely practiced, including in the Tanana Valley. In his 1986 oral history autobiography, Minto Chief Peter John — that was born in 1900 — described hunting bears in dens with a .22-caliber rifle and despite an ax.

Today, discovering bears in dens stays important across the Koyukuk River, stated Ricko DeWilde, the owner of HYDZ, an Alaska Native-inspired clothing design firm in Fairbanks. DeWilde grew up outside of Huslia and yields to the Koyukuk River area for fall hunts, for example, search for denning bears.

“We start hunting them around when the leaves drop and they den up. Later on, we will check around the rivers for places we believe they might be in,” he explained.

“Families might check 80 to 100 dens and they might get lucky and possibly get you to five grips.”

Bears are among the most admired of creatures one of the Koyukon Athabascan people, and you’ll find rules for what portions of the bear women are allowed to the consume, he explained. Even speaking about sparks is depended upon among several people, he explained.

Back in November, DeWilde was one of 20 students who obtained a class, Introduction to the Board of Game, offered at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Tanana Chiefs Conference. At the assembly, he explained against a proposition from animal rights organization OneProtest that would have made it illegal for hunters to kill bear cubs, which in practice would have stopped den hunting.

The proposition, based on DeWilde and others who testified, was founded on the misconception that seekers aim young bear cubs. In actuality, hunters make an effort not to get dens with cubs, but are bound to kill the cubs if they find them at a room with a sow.

Back in April 2017, animal rights advocates all over the world turned their focus to Alaska because of the act of Congress that eliminated some hunting limitations on national wildlife refuges in Alaska. The legislation didn’t have an effect on subsistence, so it really didn’t change the rules for murdering bear cubs.

Persons with OneProtest, which will be located in Jacksonville, Florida, investigated the matter and learned that under a few states it’s legal to kill sows with cubs in Alaska, an idea the activists found particularly “barbaric.” A petition organized by the group to outlaw cub hunting in Alaska received nearly 30,000 signatures.

OneProtest was set up to ban bear hunting in Florida, and now has many animal welfare campaigns throughout the nation. Along with its Alaska effort, the team has attempted to prevent bear hunting in New Jersey and to close Mexico’s San Juan de Aragon zoo for inferior treatment of animals.

Two OneProtest volunteers traveled to Anchorage in November to inquire Alaska’s Board of Game to remove the two exceptions for Alaska’s prohibition on killing bear cubs: Alaska’s rules permit the murdering of cubs in the Yukon Flats north of Fairbanks below a supply the OneProtest volunteers discovered was created because of nuisance bears. In a second, and geographically bigger area, the rules permit the murdering of cubs in bear den hunts.

The Board of Game voted OneProtest’s proposal , which is the committee’s normal response to suggestions from environmental groups. But at a scene odd in the long and controversial history between animal rights activists and also Alaska seekers, both teams met and found some common ground.

DeWilde, that shook his head and dismissed the OneProtest activists because “super bunny huggers” throughout their testimony, later talked to them at the resort lobby.

“They were really open-minded, it turned out. You can tell they really respected how we live and also the respect we’ve had for your animal. There’s a lot that goes into harvesting that animal (bears). That is definitely the most respected animal.”

After the assembly, OneProtest updated its effort site (bearcubs) together with information about its Alaska excursion, and made a video apology.

“Into the Native individuals, pitsaqenrita (Yupik to get ‘I am sorry’). We apologize for any crime that our initial mistake caused,” a message in the end of the video stated.

OneProtest activist Robert Evans said he’s still enthusiastic about working to change Alaska hunting rules in the future, but might take on another topic, such as Alaska’s predator control policies. If he can do it, he explained, he’d also try to work with Alaska’s regional advisory committees instead of writing his own proposition.

“We’d have done more in the grass roots to get the advisory panels perform the proposal rather than people,” he explained. “It’s got to be arriving from Alaskans. There can’t be any perception, even though this wasn’t the case here, that it’s coming from an outside source.”

Polar bear specialists double-down on Concept of starving bears

The significant content of a new paper being heavily-hyped from the media1 is what wasn’t said rather than what the writers discovered about metabolic rates and weight maintenance of a little sample of eight Southern Beaufort Sea occupies in 2014 to 2016 (Pagano et al. 2018; Whiteman 2018).

This paper does not document starving or dying bears but only found some (5/9) that lost weight when they should have been gaining, provided that early April will be the start of the ringed seal pupping season (Smith 1987) and also the intensive spring feeding period to get polar bears (Stirling et al. 1981).

The question is, why were Southern Beaufort Sea polar bears off Prudhoe Bay (see map of the study region below), still hunting and capturing just adult and subadult ringed seals from sea ice contributes if newborn ringed seal pups and their mothers should have been abundant and comparatively easily available within theirabout the sea ice (see below)?

“Using video collar info, we recorded bears’ hunting behavior and foraging success. Bears used sit-and-wait tactics to hunt seals 90% of the time, and also stalking comprised the remaining 10% of hunts (movies S1 to S4) (19). Bears that successfully killed and ate adult or subadult ringed seals gained or maintained body mass, whereas conveys that just scavenged or showed no signs of ingesting lost mass”

There isn’t any discussion in the paper of ringed seal birth lairs, or sea ice conditions at the time of the analysis, but many mentions about what could occur in the near future to sea ice and possible implications for polar bears. The did exactly the same.

However, because you’ll see from the sea ice depth maps below, there may be good reason for the absence of ringed seal lairs, and an overall lack of seals except at the nearshore lead to forms due to tidal actions: the ice just a little further offshore ice appears too thick for a great crop of ringed seals in all three years of the analysis. That is reminiscent of circumstances that occurred from the (Burns et al. 1975; Cherry et al. 2009; Harwood et al. 2012, 2015; Pilfold et al. 2012; Stirling 2002, Stirling et al. 1987). Those events changed mostly occupies in the eastern half of the Southern Beaufort and so are almost certainly responsible to the recorded decrease in SB keep numbers from the 2001-2010 survey (Bromaghin et al. 2015; Crockford 2017; Crockford and Geist 2018).

It appears very strange to me that Pagano and colleagues implied no explanations for the unexpectedly weak showing of polar bear hunting success during their analysis except a bit of hand-waving about higher-than-we-thought metabolic rates from the bears. For years, I have stressed that the inevitable next episodes of heavy Southern Beaufort spring ice would lead to difficulties for polar bears and seals however, we would not understand it because whatever impacts were recorded would bee : I suspect that time could come.

Pagano et al. 2018 polar bear fat and energy fig 1

Figure 1 from Pagano et al. 2018 found to show just the study region off Alaska.

Here are some sea ice depth maps from the US Navy to its three years of the analysis, together with 2015 shown.

Beaufort sea ice thickness_2015 April 8 NRL

Ice depth map in the Naval Research Laboratory to get 8 April 2015. Take a look at the thick ring of 5 m thick ice along the specific stretch of Alaska coastline where the Pagano et al. 2018 study happened. Ringed seals can’t survive, let alone provide birth, at that sort of thick ice storm and have to move to regions of thinner ice using open leads (accessible to the west and east in 2015).

Beneath, ice depth map for April 2016, demonstrating slightly better conditions, especially to the east:

Beaufort sea ice thickness_2016 April 6 NRL

The group of thick multiyear ice (~5m thick) was more extensive in April 2016 but nevertheless present within the Pagano et al. 2018 study region. Thinner ice to the west and east would have been more appealing to mature ringed seals.

Beneath, ice depth map for April 2014, showing ice depth of 2 m or more across the Area, which is likely too thick in most areas for ringed seals:

Beaufort Sea ice thickness_arcticictnowcast_2014 April 18

Sea ice over the Pagano et al. 2018 analysis region at April 2014 wasn’t quite as thick as 2015 and 2016 (just 3 — 4.5m thick) but that was likely enough to drive breeding ringed seals off.   Note the absence of openings or regions of thinner ice that would attract seals except very close to shore.

In a roughly Beaufort Sea polynyas, I discussed what marine mammal biologists Ian Stirling and coworkers had to say about polar bears and also the effect of the Cape Bathurst polynya about the origin of polar bears in spring (Stirling et al. 1981:49):

“Polar bears prey mainly on ringed seals and, to a lesser degree, on bearded seals. Polar bears appear to be richer in polynya areas and together shoreleads, likely because the densities of seals are far greater and they are more assessable. As an instance, between March and June from the Beaufort Sea by 1971 through 1975, 87 percent of the sightings of polar bears were created adjacent to floe edges or in distant regions of 9/10 or 10/10 ice cover using intermittent patches of young ice hockey. [my bold]

Later, the Very Same authors discussed why those Regions of open water could be so important from the Southern Beaufort region (Stirling et al. 1981:54):

“One useful strategy is to ask what will occur if the polynya wasn’t there? Clearly this is impossible to evaluate in an experimental basis, but by examining the effects or natural seasonal variation, some useful insights could be gained. As an instance, the influence of quickly changing ice conditions to the availability of open water, and consequently on populations of seals and polar bears, has been found at the western Arctic. Apparently in reaction to severe ice conditions in the Beaufort Sea during winter 1973-74, also to a lesser level at winter 1974-75, amounts of ringed and bearded seals fell by roughly 50% and productivity by roughly 90%. Concomitantly, productivity and numbers of polar bears dropped markedly due to the decrease in the abundance of their prey species. in the event the shoreleads of the western Arctic or Hudson Bay ceased opening during spring and winter, the effect on marine mammals would be catastrophic.” [my bold]

Footnotes:

1. The media frenzy has been no doubt helped by the fact that the writers made accessible four movies  that were part of their supplementary material.

Images, Video, and Other Media (watch them ):

Movie S1
Video from a camera collar on a polar bear (keep #1) whereas to the sea ice of the Beaufort Sea at April 2014. This video shows an adult female polar bear in April 9, 2014 digging a hole in the sea ice to entice a seal to develop to breath because she proceeds to still-hunt at the place and then pounces throughout the ice into the water. The video reveals her April 10, 2014 walking to the sea ice and about April 11, 2014 moving a recently captured ringed seal. The video shows her April 12, 2014 interacting with the adult male polar bear.

Movie S2
Video from a camera collar on a polar bear (keep #4) while to the sea ice of the Beaufort Sea at April 2015. This video shows an adult female polar bear in April 16, 2014 swimming below the sea ice hockey. The video shows her April 18, 2014 still-hunting and pouncing through the ice into the water. On April 19, 2014, the video shows her still hunting and pouncing through the ice into the water at another place.

Movie S3
Video from a camera collar on a polar bear (keep #5) while to the sea ice of the Beaufort Sea at April 2015. This video shows that an adult female polar bear in April 12, 2015 ingesting the muscle from the remains of the old seal carcass. Later on the same day, she is shown walking to the sea ice hockey.

Movie S4
Video from a camera collar on a polar bear (keep #8) whereas to the sea ice of the Beaufort Sea at April 2016. This video shows that an adult female polar bear in April 10, 2016 grabbing and eating a ringed seal. The video shows her April 12, 2016 stalking, operating, and trying to grab a bearded seal.

A few of todays headlines, in no Specific order (note that the hyperbole):

Polar Bears Really Are Starving Because of Global Warming, Study Shows (National Geographic, February 2018).

Polar Bears Burn Calories Faster than Scientists Realized. That’s a Problem (InsideClimateNews, 1 February 2018)

Polar bears ‘running from food’ (BBC, 1 February 2018)

What Scientists Learned From Strapping a Camera to a Polar Bear (The Atlantic, February 2018)

High-tech bear-cams suggest polar bears with tougher time hunting (National Post, Canadian Press, 1 February 2018) g

Polar bears may become extinct quicker than was worried, study says(The Guardian, 1 February 2018)

As Arctic sea ice thins, therefore do polar bears(Chicago Tribune, 1 February 2018)

The North’s ‘apex predator’ jeopardized by receding sea ice in the Beaufort Sea, study says(CBC, 1 February 2018)

Pagano said it would be tough to say how widely these results could apply across the Beaufort Sea.

“How activity patterns and forging success rates may vary between regions and times of year is tough to speculate.”

Other researchers have shown declining polar bear populations across the Beaufort Sea area, but this study wasn’t meant to handle concerns of entire polar bear decrease from the North.

“For this study we are not looking at trends,” Pagano said.

“There’s no information here documentation of our results may relate to historical patterns simply because there is no advice, as far as we are aware, of what the activity levels were of those bears historically.”

Metabolism study signals more trouble ahead for polar bears (Reuters, 1 February 2018)

What Cameras about Polar Bears Show Us: It’s Tough Out There (New York Times, 1 February 2018)

Polar bears are wasting away at a changing climate (NATURE, 1 February 2018)

References

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Lolo, Flathead Helena: Grizzly bears forest plan amendments’ focus

As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers whether to remove grizzlies from the listing of protected species, it must see to it that the delisting won’t send people into decline. (Andrew Englehorn/National Park Service)

With the preservation of grizzly bear populations in your mind, four federal forests in western Montana introduced the final version of suggested management program changes this past week.

The forest plan amendments restrain human encroachment in areas favored by the area’s estimated 1,000 grizzly bears: mining, logging, camping, road building, food storage and livestock grazing.

Included would be the Lolo, Kootenai, Flathead and Helena-Lewis and Clark national forests — a vast acreage key to the survival of grizzly bears from the northern Rocky Mountains.

The Flathead comprised the new guidelines in its larger forest plan revision also released this week.

Since 1975, the national government has secure grizzly bears in the lower 48 states as a threatened species. While the bears were common from the Great Plains to the Pacific Ocean, they currently inhabit just four so-called “recovery regions,” the biggest of which would be that the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.

As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers whether to remove grizzlies from the list of protected species, it must see to it that the delisting won’t send people into reduction.

Part of the procedure is amending federal forest management strategies to formally protect habitat favored with grizzly bears, forest supervisors Tim Garcia, Bill Avey, Chip Weber and Chris Savage stated in releasing their own decision.

The 148-page record explains the part of domestic forests at grizzly bear recovery in the Northern Continental Divide. Of the retrieval zone 5.7 million acres, 3.48 million acres (or 61%) are around federal forests.

But most of the appropriate forest management programs have not been revised since the 1980s, so lack the newfound understanding of what grizzly bears have to flourish and endure.

The aim of the adjustments, the forest supervisors said, would be to preserve habitat conditions from the prime recovery regions “in levels that happened during the time frame once the grizzly bear population was known to be growing and increasing in supply.”

Protecting female grizzly bears is the trick to the people’s survival. (Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks)

First and foremost, that means protecting female grizzly bears, as stated by the Record of Decision released this past week.

“Survival of adult and sub-adult females is thought to have the most significant influence on grizzly bear populations,” the decision says. “In the NCDE, human-caused mortality has become the most significant factor influencing grizzly bear survival”

A 2016 evaluation of grizzly bear mortality statistics “demonstrated that poaching/malicious kills likely accounted for the highest proportion of total independent endure mortality (27 percent), followed by management removals (16 percent), prohibited defense of property (11 percent), and also natural causes (9 percent),” according to the Forest Service.

The “control removals” largely had a Frequent theme, the agency stated:

“The vast majority of management removals lead to conflicts at websites on private lands connected with frequent or permanent human presence. Unsecured attractants on private lands such as chicken coops, garbage, human foods, pet/livestock food, bird food, livestock carcasses, ore piles, orchard fruitsvegetable or vegetable gardens are usually the source of these conflicts.”

So in the end, humans will be the drivers of grizzly bear recovery in the northern Rockies, the forest supervisors emphasized.

“The quantity of habitat that is available to grizzly bears depends largely by individuals and their activities,” their choice document says. “Maintaining massive blocks of secure habitat is important to the survival and reproductive success of grizzly bears, particularly females.”

That habitat security is found most easily in the 1.7 million acres of federally protected wilderness regions in the Northern Continental Divide.

However, it should also consist of grizzly bear habitat in portions of the national forests where grizzlies and humans share occupancy.

Here’s how the forest plan amendments address the “key stressors” in those critical habitat zones:

Road densities in prime grizzly habitat: For years, research has shown the negative effects of streets (and the associated human action) on grizzly bears.

Grizzlies generally fix their habitat usage patterns in response to road densities and visitors, and also show a decrease survival rate in heavily roaded areas.

The forest plan amendments attempt to maintain baseline levels of streets in most grizzly bear management subunits inside the main conservation area. They also set consistent guidelines across the area for the usage and closure or obliteration of any temporary streets.

“These program elements will provide the conditions necessary to maintain grizzly bear survival, reproduction, and distribution through the primary conservation area,” the decision says.

Due to the high possibility of conflicts, the four federal forests aren’t letting enhanced livestock grazing in prime grizzly bear habitat. (USDA Forest Service)

Developed recreation sites: “The frequent or prolonged person occupancy which happens at developed recreation sites increases the probability of habituation, food consumption, and grizzly bear-human conflicts,” that the Record of Decision says. “Implementation and monitoring of these food storage dictates, public schooling, and also increases in the availability of bear-resistant food storage devices have helped to reduce the number of grizzly bear-human conflicts around the national forests lately, and these would last. Our decision will include forest plan elements to restrict future increases in the number or power of developed recreation sites designed and operated for overnight usage during the non-denning year on NFS lands in the principal conservation field.”

Timber management: The decision is markedly brief in its own discussion of limitations on logging into grizzly bear habitat.

“Our decision will include a constant set of desirable conditions and guidelines applicable to vegetation management in the principal conservation field,” it reads. “These program elements will provide for varied cover and forage conditions and lower the potential for grizzly bear displacement as a consequence of timber sale activities.”

Livestock grazing: The four federal forests won’t allow increases in the number of cattle grazing allotments over the baseline or in the number of domestic sheep allotments. The Fish and Wildlife Service considers livestock utilization of the federal forests as “potentially harmful” to bear survival because of “competition for forage, displacement of sparks, and lead mortality as a consequence of conflicts”

Minerals and energy creation: energy and Cosmetic growth “may possibly result in permanent habitat loss, habitat fragmentation or even displacement from habitat,” according to this forest plan amendments.

Energy growth is known to improve grizzly bear mortality because of the growth in human activities in previously remote or uninhabited areas.

Thus the Forest Service’s decision: “Our decision will include plan elements to direct new or reauthorized leases, permits, and/or strategies of operation for mineral activities … in a fashion which can help to decrease conflicts, and promote public security, and reduce effects on grizzly bears. In the principal conservation area, no surface occupancy stipulation is going to be necessary on new leases for leasable minerals”

Food and attractant storage: The Forest Service can continue to expand its current orders commanding the storage of food and other attractants in grizzly bear habitat. Supervisors and wildlife biologists alike stated those constraints have proved effective in the past, since they help stop the habituation of bears to human food — a departure sentence for grizzlies.

Read more about the forest plan amendments, including the entire decision documents through this hyperlink.

The post Lolo, Flathead, Kootenai, Helena: Grizzly occupies the focus of forest program alterations appeared initially on Missoula Current.