As it turns out, Grizzly bears in the Creston area are pretty important on a continental and regional scale. While the bears used to range from northern Canada down to Mexico, the edge of their North American distribution in these parts (west of the main Rocky Mts.) is just south of Creston in northern Idaho and Montana. So, efforts to resist any further extirpations (local extinctions) of that shrinking distribution around Creston are pretty important.
Wildlife biologist Michael Proctor from Kaslo, BC, is cooperating with biologists from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to study the bear’s movements and habitat use between Castlegar and Cranbrook BC. One of their main goals is to see how bears move through human environments and survive. “Many don’t survive, but many do” Proctor says. They want to learn from those clever ones who live to a ripe old age and manage to co-exist with the people in the area. Grizzly bears usually live in the mountains away from humans, but occasionally come to the valley bottoms, especially in the early spring when snow covers most of the higher country. As a matter of fact, Proctor, and work partner Tom Radandt of the USFWS, caught a 20 year old 450 lb. male grizzly bear in April in the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area. They put a GPS radio collar on him that uses satellites to follow and record location data once each hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The information collected from this bear (and others) will be used to try and help people and bears coexist with minimal trouble and improve the bear’s chances of long-term persistence in the region. Proctor’s research has shown that bears are having a hard time moving across human settled valleys and between mountain ranges such as the Purcells and Selkirks that flank the Creston Valley. When they determine where the bears are moving, they will consider efforts to insure that bear attractants are kept to an absolute minimum in these areas. Controlling bear attractants is the single most important action we can do to coexist with these wonderful animals.