Among the Bears

How to coexist with grizzlies 
Michael Beall/ Montana Kaimin

From the top of Mount Siyeh, elevation 10,015 feet, waves of crumbling peaks ripple to the horizon in every direction.

Glacier National Park is the crown of the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE), which spans from the Rattlesnake Wilderness to the Canadian Border, encompassing 9,600 square miles, five national forests, five wilderness areas, two Indian reservations and Glacier Park.

Montana is now home to 989,415 people and 1,700 grizzly bears.

One wouldn’t pick this rugged landscape as an ideal territory to raise a family in 1850. And for the grizzly bear, mountains were its last resort when hunters and developers drove them to the brink of extinction throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. The great bear sought refuge deep within the only two remaining protected areas: Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks.

For the last 50 years, grizzly bears have made a comeback, their populations leaking down into federally protected wilderness areas under the security of the Endangered Species Act. Public attitudes have also improved, but researchers and managers are aware there’s a limit to what the public can handle in terms of inevitable conflicts with private property and public land.

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