Cabinet-Yaak grizzly population is growing, not dwindling

January 24, 2023 4:07 am

Photo of a grizzly bear (Photo by Gregory Smith | Wikimedia Commons | CC-BY-SA 2.0)

In his recent editorial in the Daily Montanan, environmentalist Mike Garrity presented dishonest data to promote a lawsuit that aims to shut down the vital Black Ram project.

Garrity’s claim is that grizzly bear populations in the Cabinet-Yaak area are decreasing and in danger of crashing, having decreased, according to him, from 54 in 2018 to 42 in 2021. 

The number of grizzlies Garrity bases his claim on is a minimum population number taken from a 2021 Fish and Wildlife Service report, not a population estimate. Additionally, that minimum population number is derived from counts conducted during COVID restrictions, when staffing levels were lower, and thus the ability to properly count bears was diminished, said Wayne Kassworm, currently on the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee. Finally, in direct contradiction to Garrity’s claims, the grizzly population in the Cabinet-Yaak is in fact increasing.

Estimates from the 2021 FWS report put the increase at 2% per year. 

Garrity is presenting data in a profoundly dishonest way to stall a project that will provide good paying jobs, aid in conservation, and expand recreational access. His claims are refuted by experienced scientists. Grizzlies in the Cabinet-Yaak are not under threat, and Garrity’s lawsuit to halt the Black Ram Project is based on false premises that threaten high-paying jobs. 

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Steve Gunderson
Steve Gunderson

Steve Gunderson is a legislator from Libby. He represents House District 1 in the Montana House of Representatives. He is a Republican.