Ranchers, grizzly bears and the North Cascades (video)

Ranchers, grizzly bears and the North Cascades (video)

Conservation Northwest / Mar 05, 2015 / Grizzly Bears, Ranching

Grizzly bear in Idaho. Photo: IDFG
By Joe Scott, International Conservation Director

When we shot this documentary-style video in 2004 we couldn’t have known that we were still a decade away from any progress recovering grizzly bears in the North Cascades. So our enthusiasm from having a final quality product in hand was slowly dampened as it became clear that government was not ready to move ahead with a grizzly bear restoration process in Washington.

At the time, we also did not know that wolves would naturally reestablish themselves in Washington in the late 2000s, reigniting old tensions between livestock producers and conservation groups. Seven years since the first wolf pack was confirmed near Twisp, some tensions still smolder, but our work with willing ranchers on predator conflict prevention has proven that these traditional adversaries can coexist peacefully and fruitfully.

We were aware however that most ranchers here would oppose grizzly bear recovery in our state even before wolves returned. It’s why we focused this video on that issue. We also knew that there were successful ranchers in Montana who had regularly interacted with grizzly bears for decades.

These folks can and do coexist peacefully with grizzly bears. While there are incidents of grizzly bears preying on livestock, those are rare and often preventable without significant added costs to the rancher. Governments and NGOs also provide technical and financial assistance for preventive measures.

So we set out to get these ranchers’ story. We wanted to provide a fuller, richer narrative of the modern day interactions between the cow, the cowboy and the much maligned grizzly bear, one of nature’s best indicators of a wild and healthy natural landscape.

The results surprised even us and stirred hope that we might help open some of the toughest minds to the return of these intelligent, misunderstood animals and, in so doing help the grizzly bear reclaim a piece of its only remaining Lower 48 range outside the greater Rocky Mountains.

We think Ranching and Grizzly Bears is still relevant so we’ve dusted it off, added a few things for 2015 and published it on YouTube. Enjoy.

A huge thank you to everyone involved in making this film, including Chris Morgan, Dal Neitzel, John Cofrin and all the Montana ranchers and wildlife experts who allowed us to interview and learn from them. 

Joe Scott leads our work to protect and recover threatened grizzly bears and safeguard their habitat from British Columbia’s Coast Range to Washington’s North Cascades.