Archive for July, 2011


July 30, 2011

I have seen temperate rainforests in the Chugach National Forest of Alaska, where the dominant covertype is Sitka Spruce… I have seen temperate rainforets in Nort Coastal British Columbia where the dominant covertype is Western Red Cedar and Northern Hemlock, withn a heavy understory of such plants as Devils Club (Ouch!) and Skunk Cabbage…these are rainforests in the far North and these forests will be wiped out by global climate change and so will the critters associated with these forests, like the Spirit Bear.

I have been down to subtropical rainforests in Southern Florida and tropical rainforests of Central America and Eastern Africa…I am less sure what will happen to these forests but scientests, who I read, are not very optimistic about these forests…their glass is half full.


Polar Bears and Global Warming: Was Sarah Palin Right?, In International Business News

July 29, 2011

I mean “shut my mouth”.
July 29, 2011 2:07 PM EDT

Polar bears and their ‘non-imminent’ danger were a hot topic for Sarah Palin. The former vice president candidate was against adding polar bears to the Endangered Species Act, stating that she “strongly” believed that adding them to the list was the wrong move. She stated that, “there is insufficient evidence that polar bears are in danger of becoming extinct within the foreseeable future.”

Enlarge Close (Photo: Reuters / Elvira Veksler)
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Her decision was based on a “comprehensive review by state wildlife officials of scientific information from a broad range of climate, ice and polar bear experts.” In 2008, the then Alaska Governor went as far as to say that the State of Alaska would “sue to challenge the listing of polar bears” as a threatened species, reported

Her outspoken view on the topic became controversial, causing wildlife experts to speak out.

“She’s either grossly misinformed or intentionally misleading, and both are unbecoming,” said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Alaska deserves better.”

“He’s Back”

July 26, 2011

Al Gore will Co-Host a program on climate change on September 14 called 24 Hours of Reality…check out the web for this…I am glad Gore is back!!!!

The Spirit Bear

July 26, 2011

See the August 2011 issue of National Geographic Magazine. The magazine features an article and some excellent photographs of Kermodes, Spirit Bear or what the local Tsim Tsan Indians called Moks Go’ Mol, a white colored black bear; not an albino. I have seen blue, cinnamon, platinum black bears but I hold a special place for the rare Spirit Bear.

I have seen a Spirit Bear killed by a wolf pack. I have seen a large Spirit Bear about 3 feet from a telivision producer and the producer did not know it. I have seen a black and white, or piebald colored black bear, and may be the first to report such a bear.

The genetics of this bear are explained in this article…and I have heard everyone’s theory on why such a bear exsists…but all I can say is that the bear is rare and it is a real honor to see one…I only hope that you do.

Out There: Grizzlies In The Gallatin

July 25, 2011

What I find interesting about this article is that I started this project on West Gardiner larrge mammals; including the grizzly, back in 1984. There is a Kodiak Island brown bear study that is mentioned by Steve Gehman also that I did from 1993 to 1996…that particular study was settled by Exxon Valdez Mitigation Funds…
by Ben Pierce for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Steve Gehman
Steve Gehman collects a sample of bear hair from a tree trunk along the Buffalo Horn Creek trail north of Yellowstone National Park.

File Photo
Grizzly bearThis June 7, 2005, photo shows a grizzly bear moving through the brush at the park in Wyoming. New research suggests grizzly bears are re-colonizing areas of former habitat in the Gallatin Mountains north of Yellowstone. Yellowstone National Park photo.

Ben Pierce
Steve GehmanSteve Gehman of Bozeman hikes the Buffalo Horn Creek trail into the Gallatin Mountains on July 20, 2011. Gehman is working to document grizzly bear populations in the range.

Ben Pierce
Steve Gehman examines bear scatWildlife biologist Steve Gehman examines bear scat found near Buffalo Horn Creek on Wednesday morning.

Photo courtesy Wild Things Unlimited
Steve GehmanSteve Gehman investigates a bear’s day bed. Gehman is looking for evidence of grizzly bears in the Gallatin Range this week.

..Posted: Sunday, July 24, 2011 12:15 am | Updated: 10:34 am, Fri Jul 22, 2011.

Grizzlies in the Gallatin BEN PIERCE, Chronicle OutThere Editor The Bozeman Daily Chronicle | 0 comments

Steve Gehman’s first job as a wildlife biologist landed him in the middle of some of the richest grizzly bear habitat in North America. Fresh out of graduate school at Oregon State University, Gehman took a job documenting wildlife activity near Gardiner on the northern edge of Yellowstone National Park.

It was on those rugged slopes that Gehman first documented wild grizzly bears. It was an experience that developed into an occupation and later a passion. His career would lead him north to Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Kodiak Island, to Montana’s Swan Range and the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.

Now, nearly three decades on, Gehman’s research of Yellowstone grizzlies continues. On Wednesday morning, Gehman set out on foot up Buffalo Horn Creek south of Big Sky. For three days he will attempt to document grizzly bears in the Gallatin Range as he hikes along the west edge of the Gallatin Crest and then down Porcupine Creek to the Gallatin River.

“Grizzly bears represent wildness,” Gehman said during an interview in Bozeman on Monday. “When you have grizzlies you have wild country. When you hike in grizzly country, having that animal that represents power and danger and intelligence … those feelings are important.”

Gehman’s studies of grizzlies in the Gallatin Mountains have revealed some surprising findings. Two studies based in Tom Miner Basin, an area of broad, sweeping slopes and abundant wildlife west of the Yellowstone River, sparked Gehman’s desire to further explore the presence of grizzlies in the range.

An initial study, conducted from 1984-1988, found zero to five grizzly bears present in Tom Miner Basin annually. Gehman observed the bears using non-intrusive methods — by glassing the slopes of the basin at regular intervals, collecting hair samples from trees, fence lines and posts for genetic testing, and by observing scat, tracks and feeding areas. A minimum of one adult female grizzly was sighted in the area and no courting pairs were observed.

Between 2006-2008, Gehman returned to Tom Miner Basin under contract from the B Bar Ranch to observe wildlife in the area and record his findings.

What he found shocked him.

“The real surprise was the number of grizzly bears in the area,” Gehman said. “In those three years we documented 20 grizzlies just in the Tom Miner Basin … We think there may have been as many as 23 when we combine observations from all three years.”

Gehman said minimum numbers of grizzly bears using the area were nine to 16 annually. Those numbers included three to six adult females using the area, and as many as three courting pairs per year.

“To have resident female grizzlies in this area outside of Yellowstone is telling information that this is good habitat and they feel secure enough to be here,” Gehman said.

Excited by his findings, the obvious question arose: If there are that many grizzly bears in the Tom Miner Basin, how far up the Gallatin Range are they coming and how close are they getting to Bozeman?

With that question in mind, Gehman and his wife, Betsy Robinson, set out under the auspices of their own non-profit, Bozeman-based Wild Things Unlimited, to document grizzlies in other drainages and areas of the Gallatin Mountains.

Beginning in 2009, working north from Tom Miner Basin Gehman has documented three additional male grizzlies, one as far north as Trail Creek. His research has covered more than 20 drainages in which 89 hair samples were collected. Of those samples, 19 belonged to grizzlies.

This week’s reconnoitering of Buffalo Horn Creek and Porcupine Creek are intended to fill in a gap in Gehman’s research. He wants to know if grizzlies have been using that area of the Gallatins as well.

Gehman’s findings will be assembled into a report commission by The Wilderness Society. The document is expected to be completed this winter and shared with the public.

“What we have done is asked Steve to put together a report that gives folks an understanding of what is up there in terms of wildlife and habitat,” said Wilderness Society communications manager Jared White. “No one has really compiled all this wildlife data in one spot before. Right now, it is just about putting a scientific lens on a place so folks can understand the values of the Gallatin Range.”

Gehman said the expansion of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population into its historic habitat is significant in the bear’s recovery. He said the move north along the Gallatins could lead grizzlies to the Bridger, Bangtail and Big Belt mountains. That potential wildlife corridor could connect Yellowstone grizzlies with the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.

“The fact that (grizzly bears) are coming out into all these areas of previous habitat is indicative that the population is growing,” Gehman said. “… Yellowstone and Glacier national parks are not enough area to sustain a viable population.”

Gehman said reports of grizzly bears in the Centennial Range west of Yellowstone and the Wind River Range to the south indicate that the park’s grizzly habitat is saturated and the bears are beginning to re-colonize areas of former habitat.

That’s an exciting prospect for grizzly researchers, but one that comes with added responsibility.

“I hope people will take the time learn about bears and how to behave in their presence,” Gehman said. “We live in the middle of some of the best wildlife habitat in North America. I see it as a privilege to live in a place like this, to live surrounded by wilderness and have these wild animals around us.

“That, to me, is very special and very unique. I hope it transfers into an effort to preserve it.”

Ben Pierce can be reached at and 582-2625. Follow him online at and

More on the grizzly subspecies and the polar bear

July 23, 2011

O.K. I do not think the polar bear or the grizzly subspecies of brown bear will make it to the next century…

In the case of the polar bear I really think that the specialist, ice seal predator is coming up against a changing climate and will not evolve to other foods in time to ward off such a slow reproductive rate…as ice seals go so will go the wild polar bear.

The grizzly brown bear …groups like the seemingly successful Yellowstone grizzly will go the way of most Island-like, small populations and blink out as intolerance faces the bear and climate change wipes out important food sources like the Whitebark Pine Nut…and our intolerance of this behavior, irrascable, (at times), ranges from Wyoming to Central British Columbia and all of Alberta, now.

For grizzly brown bears and polar bears I see their glass as half full.

I do not know enough about other brown bear subpopulations to comment on them but from my read on those subpopulations I suspect bad news for those bears also.

I would call this a sad situation…it is indeed sad!!!


Outdoors West Yellowstone area grizzly bear euthanized, Posted: Jul 21, 2011 5:09 PM by KBZK Media Center

July 22, 2011

This has happened here for a very long time for the same reasons…when are they going to learn, (people down there).
An adult female grizzly bear that had been frequenting a private campground, getting food near tent sites and in area residences in the West Yellowstone area, has been euthanized.

The bear was captured at the campground on July 18 and was euthanized on July 20 at the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Region 3 Headquarters in Bozeman.

“For several years, this particular bear had been in conflict issues involving unnatural foods in the Hebgen Basin/West Yellowstone area. Efforts had been made to save the bear and minimize conflict issues by securing attractants along with the use aversive conditioning techniques. Unfortunately, the bear was still able to obtain foods, garbage and birdseed. This was not an issue of the bear being in poor condition and searching for any food. This bear was healthy and in very good summer condition,” according to a news release from FWP.

“Apparently over the years, the bear had been rewarded with foods so many times, it was comfortable near people. This was and is an issue that repeats itself where ever bears and people coexist….food attractants are left unsecured and bears are rewarded, thereby becoming habituated and conditioned to search for unnatural foods near people. This usually leads a bear to bold behavior, causing property damage and concerns for human safety,” it continues.

Bozeman Chronicle article on Backyard Grizzly Bears points to dilema for the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear

July 21, 2011

What promted this was an article in today’s Bozeman Daily Chronicle about backyard grizzly bears. Two studies I started are mentionned in the article but I have a bone to pick at on backyard grizzlies so I will pick.

First I remember one of my favorite topics was the division of grizzly bear use into situation 1 and 2 habitats; with situation 1 being the more important grizzly habitat…so it was said. Funny thing is these habitats were often side by side and grizzly bear use was more commen in the situation 2 habitat.

Then came the Cummulative Effects Analasis period until a grizzly bear was bumping into negative impacts at every turn.

And with that came the period of Yellowstone Grizzly Bears populating habitats near towns like Bozeman, Montana.

To put that in perspective I remember about 20 years ago showing the USDA Forest Service biologist and the State biologist grizzly bear sign near Bozeman, Montana.

I was once eating breakfast and got a call from a highly placed state wildlife manager that a grizzly bear was within 6 miles of Bozeman, Montana eating Mountain Ash berries…I stalked that bear in a Subaru Legacy…

Bottom Line I agree with Gehman that grizzly bears are populating the northern habitats of the Yellowstone Ecosystem as their population expands as said by state and federal bear researchers…

What I think will happen is that grizzly bears in this area will look for Whitebark Pine Nuts and not finding any will come into places like Bozeman, Montana or hunters camps looking for game meat and be killed…

How many grizzly bears, notoriously slow reproducers, will be killed as grizzlies come into mortality sinks like Bozeman, Montana?


The perils of polar bears longer swims in NY Times Blog by Felicity Barringer

July 20, 2011

Polar Bear Adults can swim but over 400 miles is ridiculous even for a good swimmer !!!!

In arguments over the impacts of climate change, some of the images commonly associated with those clashes have attracted skeptical critiques, perhaps none more so than those of polar bears forced to swim longer distances because their sea ice habitat is melting. Some skeptics point out that polar bears are born swimmers and that the worries of environmentalists are therefore overdone.

Now comes a new study from researchers at the United States Geological Survey and the World Wildlife Fund indicating, after tracking a small sample of bears wearing radio collars, that the swims have indeed grown longer over the last six years. Five of the 11 mothers swimming with cubs lost the cubs along the way, and one bear even swam about 427 miles to reach sea ice.

The study’s conclusions, that bears are swimming longer distances to get to the sea ice they use as a platform to catch seals, were in line with earlier work in the area, but its six-year duration gives it more heft. Scientists put global positioning system collars around the necks of 68 adult females to focus on swims of more than 30 miles.

The full text of the study, being presented at a meeting of the International Bear Association, is not yet available online, but the WWF published its abstract as part of a press release noting the results.

The mean distance of the bears’ swims was about 110 miles, usually from areas of intermittent ice floes to the main area of pack ice. As they swam, they expended more than twice the energy that they do on land or ice. “Despite the ability of polar bears to swim long distances,” the abstract said, “this behavior places them at risk of drowning and imposes greater energy expenditure,” which could affect their ability to reproduce.

The Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to list the bear as threatened because of the impact of climate change on their habitat was upheld by a federal district judge three weeks ago; more recently, Canada identified the bear as a species at risk.

As my colleague Andy Revkin reported at his Dot Earth blog two years ago, 7 of the 19 subpopulations of polar bears in the Arctic are declining in numbers and only 1 is increasing.

GOP Denies Global Warming as Polar Bear Cubs Die in Melting Arctic Ice by K.C. Dermody, Yahoo Contributor Network

July 19, 2011

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Then how did these cubs die? How long until the notoriously slow reproducing polar bear starts to show the problems with Climate Change?
COMMENTARY | Geoff York is a polar bear biologist working for the World Wildlife Fund’s Arctic Program. He has reported that polar bear cubs are being forced to swim longer distances due to their melting habitat in the Arctic, and the cubs are dying ultimately because of global warming effects.

York said, according to Reuters, “Climate change is pulling the sea ice out from under polar bears’ feet, forcing some to swim longer distances to find food and habitat.”

In the study York co-authored, they found that polar bear cubs who had to swim long distances due to lack of ice experienced a 45 percent mortality rate; cubs who did not had only an 18 percent mortality rate.

While physical evidence is obvious, instead of making an effort to do something about the detrimental effects that are occurring in our environment on earth, Republicans are denying it in even larger numbers. According to The Associated Press, in 2008, 50 percent of conservatives said they believed in the effects of global warming. But, in order to pander to the far right, many have changed their position on the issue. This year only 30 percent of conservatives say global warming has an effect on our world.

Former New York Rep. Sherwood Boehlert said that he has “never been so disappointed all my life in the pretenders to the throne from my party.” Though he is a Republican, the retired politician was always a strong protector of the environment.

In December, Republican leaders decided to throw out the Select Committee on Global Warming, saying \it was unnecessary. A spokesman for Speaker John Boehner stated, “We have pledged to save taxpayers’ money by reducing waste and duplication in Congress.”