Female grizzly euthanized after fall on Going-to-the-Sun Road

Bear suffered significant traumatic injury and was partially paralyzed

 Glacier National Park press release

West Glacier – On July 15 at approximately 11:30 p.m., rangers discovered a partially paralyzed grizzly bear that had apparently fallen about 20 feet onto the road near Rim Rock, one mile west of Logan Pass.

The bear had sustained severe traumatic injuries. Rangers, after consulting with the park’s wildlife biologist, euthanized the bear. 

On Sunday, July 15, the National Park Service conducted a necropsy and found significant trauma to its thoracic vertebrae, broken ribs, and a dislocated hip. The non-lactating female bear was estimated to be 5-7 years old and appeared to be in otherwise good health. Rangers initially thought the bear had been hit by a car, but evidence at the scene showed that the bear had slipped off an overhanging precipice and landed on its back in the road. 

Park officials notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as required since the grizzly bear is listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, and informed Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks of the incident. 

There are an estimated 300 grizzly bears in Glacier National Park. Numerous state and federal agencies have worked together to manage and recover the grizzly bear population in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, including Glacier National Park. 

The Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem encompasses about 9,600 square miles of northwestern Montana, and includes Glacier National Park, parts of the Flathead and Blackfeet Indian Reservations, parts of five national forests (Flathead, Helena, Kootenai, Lewis and Clark and Lolo), Bureau of Land Management lands, and a significant amount of state and private lands.

Beacon top weekly in Montana

The Flathead Beacon, the newspaper where my outdoors column runs, once again was named Montana’s best weekly newspaper. Frankly, the Beacon is the best newspaper, full stop, in the Treasure State, and one of the best in the Rocky Mountain region. Congrats to my colleagues back in Kalispell, who do a great job each week.

“Out of Bounds,” my weekly contribution, was earned first place in the “Sports and Outdoors Column” category. Here’s a link to the winning piece.

He kept I-90 wild

Among other things, apparently.

In addition to setting the standard on hunting ethics, it turns out Montana author Jim Posewitz had a hand in protecting the St. Regis River where it flows alongside I-90. This nice piece from Missoulian reporter Rob Chaney explains how Posewitz worked to keep the highway out of the river bottom as much as possible. The asphalt winds so the river could remain free, or at least freer than it might have been.

Lake trout may have arrived in Yellowstone on their own

A fisheries biologist has suggested that lake trout may have migrated to Yellowstone Lake on their own. There is a long established population of the fish in Jackson Lake, and those fish occasionally pass through the dam into the Snake River below.

Yellowstone National Park chief fisheries biologist, Todd Koel, said that from the Snake, the lake trout could have entered Pacific Creek. After a 40-mile swim upstream, the fish would have reached North Two Ocean Creek. That's where the creek parts, forming Pacific and Atlantic creeks. Atlantic Creek flows into Yellowstone Lake.

That's 80 miles, lake to lake. It's a long journey for lake trout, especially in small, high-elevation streams. But work in the Flathead system has shown lake trout are capable of long migrations. Some have travelled from Flathead Lake up the North Fork all the way to Canada. Others broke off the full migration to the land of politeness and hockey, following smaller streams flowing from Glacier National Park. This allowed the invading lake trout to displace the native, but less adaptable apex piscine predator, bull trout.

Research on the Flathead, Glacier lake trout invasion gives credence to the theory. Because of the work on the Flathead, we know lake trout are capable of making such long, exploratory forays into new habitat. We also know they are capable of making significant journeys up smaller, headwater type streams such as the ones that connect Glacier's lakes with the North Fork.

What's different about the migration theory for Yellowstone Lake's invasion is that most of the 80-mile journey is in the smaller waters of Pacific and Atlantic creeks. In the Flathead the bulk of the migration is in the larger North Fork, a waterway that is likely more appealing to lake dwelling lake trout.

Still, there's an unimpeded waterway from the Snake to the Yellowstone. In fact, it's the path the cutthroat trout likely followed during their ice age invasion from the Pacific watershed to the Atlantic.

The prevailing theory is lake trout were introduced to Yellowstone Lake by bucket biologists, ie. anglers who caught lake trout in nearby Lewis Lake, then dumped them into Yellowstone Lake.  Lewis Lake is also the source of the lake trout population in Jackson Lake.