Rancher charts new way forward for dealing with grizzlies


Brett French, Billings Gazette

via Missoulian - Jan 9, 2022


It was an unusual sight, about eight years ago, when 17 grizzly bears grazed on wild caraway plants in a field not far from Malou Anderson-Ramirez’s ranch home.


“When I was a child I only saw one grizzly bear my whole time being out with the sheep,” she said.


The increase in grizzly activity has prompted new technology that may rattle old ranching traditions.


Since they were placed under federal Endangered Species Act protection in 1975, grizzly bears have been mostly a Yellowstone National Park feature in southwest Montana.


That changed about 10 years ago, coinciding with when large die-offs of whitebark pine trees were being recorded. Blister rust and pine beetles were killing the long-lived trees that grow at high elevations. The trees’ seeds have long provided a high-protein food source for grizzly bears in the fall. Being an adaptable species, capable of dining on a variety of foods, the grizzlies sought out other sources of nourishment and started showing up in Tom Miner Basin.


“It was already pristine, perfect grizzly bear habitat,” Anderson-Ramirez said.


The basin is located about 30 miles south of Livingston at the base of the Gallatin Mountains and just north of Yellowstone National Park. Wild country surrounds the high meadows and grasslands Anderson-Ramirez’s family has ranched since her grandparents bought property there in the 1950s.


So many bears feeding in one place is unusual in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, with the exception of high elevation talus slopes where some grizzlies congregate to feed on cutworm moths...


TEAL tags ...