Could Colorado see the return of grizzlies, wolves and wild bison? Here’s how Montanans coexist with them. |

Could Colorado see the return of grizzlies, wolves and wild bison? Here’s how Montanans coexist with them.

Jennifer Brown
The Colorado Sun
A grizzly bear stands on its hind legs in the woods near Kalispell, Montana. (Chris Peterson, Hungry Horse News)

The latest grizzly bear killed by Montana officials was a relatively small, 278-pounder who ate 40 sheep and lambs in a two-week span, unfazed by four guard dogs and a range rider on a four-wheeler who tried to chase it away.

The bear, euthanized July 19 outside of Great Falls, was the 20th grizzly so far this season killed by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks or hit by a car or train along the Northern Continental Divide. 

The region’s human-related grizzly deaths are on par with last year’s record-setting season, a result of a growing population of both bears and people. “We’ve got bears right now in areas where we haven’t seen them in decades,” said Dillon Tabish, a Kalispell-based education program manager for the state wildlife department.

As Coloradans face questions about whether to reintroduce the grizzly — and fellow titan of the forest, the gray wolf — the state can look to its northwestern neighbors, where the native animals are making a comeback after decades on the brink of extinction. A recently filed lawsuit demands the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service explore reintroducing grizzlies to Colorado, while a petition about to circulate in Coloradowould put the question of wolf reintroduction on the November 2020 ballot. 

On their own, grizzlies have returned to the Bitterroot Mountains in Idaho and Montana, as well as the Rocky Mountain Front, where the Montana mountains meet the plains. They number close to 2,000 in the mountains of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington. 

Read more via The Colorado Sun.

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