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New Food Storage Orders, Better Coexistence with Bears

Christine Wilcox

Posted June 6, 2014 in Saving Wildlife and WIld Places

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On June 1st, two national forest supervisors signed a new order calling for safer storage of food and other bear attractants while on U.S. Forest Service land.  The new order covers the entire Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness Area, both of which are in southwest Montana. 

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The food storage order is also a great proactive move by the Forest Service to prepare for the possible expansion of grizzly bears into these areas.   Although grizzlies are currently uncommon in the area, many wildlife biologists expect to see more in the future.

Grizzlies may move further north and west out of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in search of abundant food sources.  This could be a result of the continued decline of whitebark pine as a primary food source, since most government agencies agree that the grizzly population in and around Yellowstone is no longer growing in numbers.  There are also reports of a few grizzly bears venturing south and west from the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, which includes Glacier National Park and surrounding lands. 

Most people who have spent a lot of time in bear country know how easy and effective proper food storage can be.  As part of ensuring the long-term recovery and success of grizzly bears, we encourage all public land managers to implement food storage orders in occupied grizzly habitat and lands that are expected to be occupied by grizzly bears in the near future.  Securing bear attractants goes a long way in our efforts to coexist sustainably with this iconic species.

Photo credit: USFS

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