Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Two Visitors Injured by Bison at Mud Volcano

Wednesday morning, June 28, 2017, a married couple received injuries after being “butted” by a bison at Mud Volcano, just north of Lake Village in Yellowstone National Park.

Theodore Schrader, 74, and Patsy Holmes, 72, from Heber City, Utah, were taking photographs on a boardwalk at Mud Volcano, when a bison approached them. The bison butted Mrs. Holmes, who then fell into Mr. Schrader and both individuals fell to the ground.

Park rangers responded immediately and evacuated the couple from the trail, a quarter mile, to the road. The couple was transported to the Lake Clinic.

Mr. Schrader had minor injuries. Mrs. Holmes was transported by Life Flight to Idaho Falls, Idaho. She was in stable condition.

Citations were not issued to either individual.

The park reminds visitors that wildlife in Yellowstone National Park are wild. When an animal is near a trail, boardwalk, parking lot, or in a developed area, give it space. Stay 25 yards (23 m) away from all large animals - bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes and at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves. If need be, turn around and go the other way to avoid interacting with a wild animal in close proximity.

This is the first confirmed incident of a bison injuring visitors in 2017.

In 2015, five people were injured after approaching bison.



Jeff
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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

FWP Euthanizes Two Male Grizzlies

Two sub-adult male grizzly bears were euthanized by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Monday morning after livestock depredation events during the weekend west of Stanford.

The two bears were siblings and had been seen south of the Missouri River, south east of Great Falls several times during the past few weeks. The bears killed four calves late Friday night or early Saturday morning. This was the first time the two bears had killed livestock.

When the depredation was reported, FWP and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services responded in a joint effort to capture the bears. One bear was caught in a snare. The other bear was darted in the open field. Both were handed over to FWP, who then proposed euthanizing the bears to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is the federal agency with oversight responsibilities for grizzly bears.

The two bears are part of the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem population, which is currently still listed on the Endangered Species List, though populations in the NCDE have surpassed recovery goals set by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Grizzly bears in the NCDE have been moving out from the Rocky Mountain Front and onto the plains west of Great Falls for the last few years, with some bears pushing further east each year. The two males killed Monday mark the farthest grizzly bears have been seen east of the Rocky Mountain Front in more than a century.

The bears were 2.5 years-old and weighed a little less than 300 pounds. As the public reported sightings of the bears over the past few weeks, FWP biologists and wardens visited with landowners and ranchers inquiring about conflicts and advising people on keeping attractants safely put away.

Last Thursday about 14 miles west of where the bears killed the four calves, FWP biologists set traps trying to capture the bears. The effort was unsuccessful as the two grizzlies pushed further east.



Jeff
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Monday, June 26, 2017

Many Glacier Trail Overpass Struck by Delivery Truck

In late May, a delivery truck bringing new mattresses to the Many Glacier Hotel struck one of the historic “bridle bridges” in the Many Glacier area. The collision tore half of a load bearing girder beam off the bridge. In a separate accident a week later, the other trail overpass was struck by a construction vehicle.

The overpasses are located across the Many Glacier access road near the upper and lower ends of the parking area, and are used for pedestrian and horse traffic.

Glacier National Park, in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, has completed structural assessments to assess bridge safety. Those assessments determined that the upper parking lot bridge was not safe for pedestrian and horse travel. During the assessment period, engineers discovered that the interior of the girders on the upper bridge were rotten. It is likely that those beams were part of the original bridge construction.

The park has temporarily dismantled the upper parking lot bridge, and is seeking funding along with the Federal Highway Administration to rebuild it with new girders once funding is secured. The replacement bridge will likely use many of the existing bridge materials and will likely match the profile of the original overpass. The other bridge that was struck required minor repairs that have already been completed.

Horseback rides that previously used the overpass will cross the road at the upper end of the Many Glacier Hotel parking lot with traffic control this summer.

The Many Glacier Trail Overpasses are a contributing element to the historic character of the Many Glacier Hotel Historic District. Constructed in 1914, the bridle bridges were designed to provide visitors and employees safe access across the entrance and exit roads to the hotel.



Jeff
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Saturday, June 24, 2017

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delists grizzlies in the Yellowstone ecosystem

In the final step marking a remarkable recovery effort, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced on Thursday that grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem will be removed from the Endangered Species List.

“The delisting demonstrates Montana’s long-standing commitment to the recovery of grizzly bears,” said Martha Williams, director of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “FWP takes its public trust responsibility seriously and we intend to follow through in sustaining grizzly bears in Montana as well as all other species that we manage.”

Grizzly bears were put on the Endangered Species List in 1975. At that point as few as 136 bears remained in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). Today the population is estimated at more than 700.

Management of bears in Montana’s portion of the GYE will be guided by the interagency Conservation Strategy, which will ensure a recovered grizzly bear population and that FWP and the other states continue to meet the criteria in the recovery plan. This Conservation Strategy was approved by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee in December. The strategy along with the Southwest Montana Grizzly Management Plan and a Memorandum of Agreement between Idaho, Montana and Wyoming will ensure a healthy grizzly population is maintained in the GYE.

Also, the three states have agreed to manage bears conservatively and not down to a minimum number. The goal for state management is to maintain a healthy grizzly bear population in the GYE.

“The grizzly bear population in the GYE has met all the recovery goals and the necessary safeguards are in place. This is an amazing success story,” said Ken McDonald, FWP wildlife division administrator.

FWP remains committed to continue its monitoring of females with cubs, genetic variation, bear distribution and mortalities.

In addition, FWP staff will monitor and respond to instances of human-bear interaction, livestock conflicts and provide grizzly bear outreach and education.

Thursday’s announcement only applies to the GYE. Grizzlies in the rest of Montana, including the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, will remain on the Endangered Species List.



Jeff
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Friday, June 23, 2017

USDA Announces $20 Million for Jobs for Young People, Veterans

USDA and partners committed $20 million in 21st Century Conservation Service Corps partnership agreements to provide 4,000 work opportunities for youth, young adults and veterans up to 35 years old, a move that will help the U.S. Forest Service accomplish mission-critical infrastructure and landscape restoration projects on the ground. The U.S. Forest Service is one of seventeen USDA Agencies.

The funding represents investments by USDA of $13 million and $7 million from partner organizations. Contributions by the Forest Service and partners are expected to reach $40 million by the end of 2017 and provide 11,000 work opportunities. Some funds are already placed with 21st Century Conservation Service Corps partnership agreements; other funds will continue to be obligated throughout the summer.

“The 21st Century Conservation Corps is not merely a summer jobs program,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “This is about nurturing our public lands as well as our veterans, youth and young adults through a variety of opportunities to develop leadership potential and professional and personal connections through work across many diverse landscapes.”

The work accomplished by participants will include hundreds of miles of trail maintenance and improvements, watershed protection, removal of vegetation as part of wildfire prevention, improvements to recreation facilities, and other essential work on lands managed by the Forest Service.

Since the program started in 2014, the Forest Service generated nearly 30,000 opportunities for youth and veterans to work on projects that benefit public lands. Corps partners provide hands-on service and job training while working with the Forest Service and other land management agencies to build America’s rural and urban economies, strengthen America’s infrastructure, and modernize the way government works.

Involving veterans in these opportunities helps them learn new skills while continuing to serve their nation and local communities. In FY 2016, 910 veterans were engaged on Forest Service volunteerism and service projects, of which 170 participated in 21st Century Conservation Corps projects. In FY 2017, the agency expects to hire 186 veterans.

About 20 percent of the 4,000 opportunities funded by this year’s commitment will be for Youth Conservation Corps jobs, a summer employment program on public lands that employ high school-aged youth. About 25 percent of the dedicated resources will support high-priority trail maintenance and improvements.

Projects will be on public lands in rural communities from coast to coast and will include diverse work experiences.

Annually, the Forest Service engages about 100,000 volunteers and 21st Century Conservation Service Corps participants. As part of an emphasis on strengthening and deepening connections with the public through outdoor experiences, the agency is committed to expanding its capacity for greater volunteerism and community service. The goal is to increase engagement to 115,000 volunteers by 2020 mostly through individual and partner organizations committed to the conservation of the public lands legacy.

To participate in the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps contact a member organization.

For additional information about funded projects, jobs, volunteering and other opportunities for young people, visit the Forest Service online Working with Us page.



Jeff
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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Snow Climber Rescued After Fall on Disappointment Peak

Grand Teton National Park rangers conducted a rescue for a snow climber who fell after slipping and falling on snow Monday afternoon. Robert Henderson, 68, of Wilson, WY was descending the Southeast Ridge of Disappointment Peak when he fell. Rangers responded quickly to the scene and transported Henderson to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson, WY.

Henderson’s fall, which took place just before 1:30 p.m. was witnessed from below by two hikers in the Amphitheater Lake area. Those hikers were the first to call Teton Interagency Dispatch Center and report the accident. Shortly thereafter, Henderson’s climbing partner, Dan Matzke of Moose, WY, called the dispatch center and reported that Henderson had lost his footing and slid on the snow before disappearing from view. Henderson’s fall carried him a total of 400 feet downhill, including a 60-80 foot cliff, to a location amongst snow and trees approximately 300 feet above Amphitheater Lake.

A ranger who was climbing on Disappointment Peak met up with Matzke, assisted him on the technical descent to Amphitheater Lake, and reached Henderson’s location at about 3:00 pm. The ranger assessed Henderson, who was alert but had suffered leg and shoulder injuries. Matzke continued downhill with a bystander.

At 4:20 p.m., the Teton Interagency Contract Helicopter inserted two rangers to Henderson’s location via short-haul. The rangers loaded Henderson into a rescue litter and prepared him for extraction by short-haul. One ranger attended Henderson during the short flight out to the Lupine Meadows Rescue Cache at 5:11 p.m. He was transferred to a park ambulance and transported to St. John’s. The helicopter returned to retrieve the remaining two rangers.

Though Henderson and Matzke were planning to climb on snow and had all the necessary gear to do so, park rangers recognize that many visitors to the Tetons may not be expecting wintertime conditions in June. Rangers advise that elevations above 9,000 feet are mostly still snow-covered, and appropriate knowledge and experience using an ice ax and crampons is necessary for traversing steep terrain.

Short-haul is a rescue technique where an individual or gear is suspended below the helicopter on a 150 to 250 foot rope. This method allows a rescuer more direct access to an injured party, and it is often used in the Teton Range where conditions make it difficult to land a helicopter in the steep and rocky terrain.



Jeff
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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Avalanche Creek Trail Temporarily Closed Due to Bear Activity - closure likely to last several days

The Avalanche Creek Trail is temporarily closed from the trailhead to the head of the lake for bears frequenting the area. The closure does not include the Trail of the Cedars.

Over the past week, the park has received reports of up to six different grizzly bears in the Avalanche area, coming close to people. The bears are exhibiting some signs of habituation, meaning they appear more comfortable than is natural around humans.

On Saturday, the park rangers received a credible report of a group of people nearly completely surrounding a grizzly bear along Avalanche Lake, causing the bear to swim out into the lake to create distance between itself and the crowd.

The temporary closure will likely last several days, and will give park managers the opportunity to assess bear behavior and movement, allow the bears to move to more remote areas, and identify any needed additional actions. The closure is in accordance with the park’s Bear Management Plan.

“It is exciting to see bears here at the park,” said Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow. “One of the best things people can do if they see a bear is to make sure they back up, and create 300 feet of distance. That helps reinforce natural bear behavior, and keeps both people and bears safe.”

Park visitors should travel in groups and make loud noises by calling out or clapping their hands at frequent intervals, especially near streams, and at blind spots on trails. These actions help avoid surprise bear encounters. Do not approach any wildlife; instead, use binoculars, telescopes, or telephoto lenses to get a closer look. Visitors should maintain a minimum distance of 100 yards from any bear within the park.

Proper use of bear spray has proven to be the best method for fending off threatening, and attacking bears, and for preventing injury to the person, and animal involved. Anyone participating in recreational activities in bear country is highly encouraged to have bear spray. The bear spray should be readily accessible, and hikers should know how to use it. Visitors should store food, garbage and other attractants in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes when not in use. Garbage must be deposited into a bear-resistant trash can or dumpster. These actions help keep bears from becoming conditioned to human food, and help keep park visitors, and their personal property safe.

Visitors should report any bear sightings or signs of bear activity to the nearest visitor center, ranger station or by calling 406-888-7800 as soon as possible.

For further updates on the Avalanche Lake Trail, and other trails within the park, please visit: https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/trailstatusreports.htm



Jeff
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