Living better near bears: Improving life in Montana communities - Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative

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Living better near bears: Improving life in Montana communities

For the People and Carnivores team, 2019 was a year of focus on community programs for bear-safety and helping people in rural Montana take proactive steps towards coexisting safely with their wild neighbors.

Across Montana, People and Carnivores works to reduce the frequency of human-bear conflicts. This means partnering with farmers, ranchers, rural residents and Indigenous communities to establish and practice coexistence on both public and private lands.

With last year’s initiatives, People and Carnivores worked to make living alongside bears as easy, and least intimidating as possible for people by helping them make small adjustments to daily life.

Bear-safety events are a great way to provide local communities with the tools they need to feel safe around bears, as well as protect the bruins from the unfortunate consequences of conflict — often, relocation or being killed.

With Y2Y’s support, People and Carnivores held 15 bear-safety events and other meetings this season in the southern Crown of the Continent and the High Divide, including several towns and the Flathead Indian Reservation. More than 700 people learned how to better live near wildlife.

At a field workshop hosted by People and Carnivores, attendees learned best practices for building and maintaining electric fences to deter grizzlies. The workshop was attended by more than 25 people including agency personnel and wildlife biologists. People and Carnivores designs and installs several bear-deterrent fences every year, including around berry farms and chicken barns in 2019.

People and Carnivores also made a difference in human-bear coexistence this season by helping distribute more than 50 bear-resistant trash bins to town residents and businesses.

How did Y2Y support it?

People and Carnivores is focused exclusively on encouraging and implementing coexistence strategies that enable humans and large carnivores, such as bears, to live alongside one another. This is an important part of the work needed to harmonize the needs of people with those of nature — central to Y2Y’s vision.

Knowing how to use bear spray and carrying it an accessible place is an important part of living in bear country. Credit: National Park Service

The Yellowstone to Yukon mission progresses because of collaboration. That’s why we’re proud to continue with our partner grants program — one that has been running since 1998.

Y2Y’s partner grant program is one of the ways we support organizations whose work underpins the Yellowstone to Yukon mission. These on-the-ground projects complement our efforts and mobilize work that we wouldn’t be able to do on our own. We are pleased to provide this financial foundation for the conservation community, because we know that it is only together that we will achieve success.

In 2019 alone, we invested more than $60,500 in 18 organizations that will help protect and connect the habitat from Yellowstone to Yukon so people and nature can thrive. Applications for funding must be for a project that supports Y2Y’s vision and mission.

Proud partners: More about People and Carnivores

People and Carnivores works to reconnect and restore carnivore populations in the Northern Rockies by working with the region’s people to prevent human-carnivore conflicts and keep wildlife wild. For more about People and Carnivores, see their new short film, Wild Connections.