Year: 2009
Acres: N/A
Ecosystem: Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem
Location: MT – Lincoln County
Project Type: Bear-proofing

In mid-2009, Vital Ground facilitated a grant between the Lincoln County Environmental Health Department and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Park’s Living with Wildlife Program to bear-proof dumpsters in a garbage collection site in Trego, MT. The grant was quickly matched through the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, run by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway jumped on board to provide the balance of the funds through the Great Northern Environmental Stewardship Area (GNESA) Partnership. Lincoln County performed all the work in fall 2009, including fencing and electrification.

In the past few years, grizzly bear sightings have significantly increased in the Trego area south of Eureka, Montana. As the grizzly population grows in the NCDE, evidence suggests that bears have been moving into the Salish Mountains south of Eureka. Biologists hope that as these animals expand their range, they will eventually help augment the small population of grizzlies in the Cabinet–Yaak Ecosystem.

A similar project was completed two years ago at Glen Lake, where grizzly females with cubs were seen in the dumpsters. Since the installation of electrified fencing at the site, there has been no further evidence of bears or other wildlife gaining access to the dumpsters.

As for Vital Ground, we appreciate the opportunity to partner on projects that reduce human-bear conflicts and allow these animals to move safely across the landscape.