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Mountain News: Yellowstone's wolves and grizzlies spread



RED LODGE, Mont. — From Yellowstone National Park, the populations of grizzly bears and gray wolves have been spreading laterally. Some people rejoice; others worry.

"They're here," said Shawn Stewart, a biologist with the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, referring to grizzly. "Now what do we do?"

To keep people out of harms way, said Stewart, they need to have no food lying around, such as in garbage cans. "Food-conditioned grizzly bears, bears with access to garbage and other anthropogenic food sources are much more likely to cause human injury or death than non-food conditioned bears," he told the Carbon County News of Red Lodge.

Nine people were killed by grizzlies in Yellowstone, Glacier and Banff National Parks between 1967 and 1989. Of them, eight were caused by seven different bears, all of which were food-conditioned, he said.

Bears which have yet to make the connection between humans and food almost always leave people alone. Just the same, bear spray is an effective deterrent when there are encounters with bears. He said studies show that where bear spray was used, 92 per cent of the bears changed their behaviour. In 98 per cent of cases, humans were unharmed.

In Wyoming, conservation groups seek to block a hunt of wolves that has already begun. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisted the wolf from protection under the Endangered Species Act after first securing a management plan with Wyoming.

The plan, reports the Jackson Hole News&Guide, allows up to 52 wolves in the northwest part of the state to be killed, but requires Wyoming to maintain at least 10 breeding pairs and 100 individual wolves outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Gov. Matt Mead says the plan is working well, but conservationists disagree. "It's sort of a racer to the bottom in terms of wildlife management standards," said Tim Presco, of Earthjustice, which is representing Defenders of Wildlife and other groups.

'Hell on Highway' set to air

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Interstate 80 can be a bear to drive during winter. Consider the winter before last, when more than 700 inches fell on Donner Summit, whipped by wind gusts of 100 mph.

With that in mind, a film company got a contract with National Geographic and then lined up nine crews to record the story of keeping the highway open for long-haul truckers, skiers at Tahoe resorts, and whoever else would want to travel on the highway.

That was at the start of last winter, which wasn't at all like winter, explains the Sierra Sun. Finally, last February, the snowstorms began, and allowing America's Star Media to go into action. The results of its efforts are now being shown in a multi-part series called "Hell on the Highway."

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