Troy woman named to grizzly bear advisory council

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A Troy woman has been named to the Montana Grizzly Bear Advisory Council.

Robyn King, the Executive Director of the Yaak Valley Forest Council, is one of 18 Montana citizens named to the council by Governor Steve Bullock.

King is a 32-year resident of the Yaak Valley and one of the founders of Forest Council.

The announcement was made Friday. The council was formed to facilitate a statewide discussion on long-term grizzly bear management and conservation. Governor Bullock also issued an executive order to guide the council’s deliberations.

“I’m grateful for the incredibly strong interest from Montanans across the state who offered to serve on this council, speaking both to the timeliness of this discussion and the passion for grizzly bears that Montanans share,” Governor Bullock said. “I look forward to this diverse council working together to find balanced ways to conserve bears and meet the needs of Montanans and our state.”

Governor Bullock solicited applications for council membership beginning in April, seeking individuals with a diversity of views and commitment to working together on the future of grizzly bears in Montana. More than 150 people from across the state applied for a spot. Bullock worked in consultation with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) before making his final selections.

Bullock appointed the council to reflect the diverse group of people who have a connection to grizzly bears, including those who live, work, and recreate in bear country. The council is intentionally representative of the different parts of the state where grizzlies are currently or may soon be found.

Council membership includes:

• Bret Barney, Wyola. Qualification: Livestock producer. Barney is the Range Detective and Wildlife Manager for Sunlight Ranch Company.

• Chad Bauer, Missoula. Qualification: Outdoor industry professional. Bauer is Municipal Market Manager for Republic Services.

• Darrin Boss, Havre. Qualification: Hunter. Boss is the Department Head for the Department of Research Centers for Montana State University.

• Jonathan Bowler, Condon. Qualification: Conservation group. Bowler is the Education Director for the Swan Valley Connections.

• Trina Jo Bradley, Valier. Qualification: Livestock producer. Bradley is a Rancher in Pondera County.

• Caroline Byrd, Bozeman. Qualification: Conservation group. Byrd is the Executive Director of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.

• Michele Dieterich, Hamilton. Qualification: Wildlife enthusiast. Dieterich is a Teacher.

• Erin Edge, Missoula. Qualification: Conservation group. Edge is a Representative for the Rockies and Plains Program for the Defenders of Wildlife.

• Nick Gevock, Helena. Qualification: Conservation organization. Gevock is the Conservation Director for the Montana Wildlife Federation.

• Lorents Grosfield, Big Timber. Qualification: Livestock producer. Grosfield is an Owner/Operator of a Family Cattle Ranch in Sweet Grass County.

• Kameron Kelsey, Gallatin Gateway. Qualification: Livestock producer. Kelsey is a rancher in Gallatin County.

• Robyn King, Troy. Qualification: Conservation group. King is the Executive Director of the Yaak Valley Forest Council.

• Kristen Lime, Browning. Qualification: Tribal member. Lime is a Rancher and Pre-College Advisor for Montana Educational Talen Search.

• Cole Mannix, Helena. Qualification: Conservation organization. Mannix is the Associate Director of Western Landowners Alliance and is a Rancher in Lewis and Clark County.

• Heath Martinell, Dell. Qualification: Livestock producer. Martinell is Rancher in Beaverhead County.

• Chuck Roady, Columbia Falls. Qualification: Community leader. Roady is the Vice President and General Manager for F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Company.

• Gregory Schock, Saint Ignatius. Qualification: Livestock producer. Schock is the Owner of Schock’s Mission View Dairy.

• Anne Schuschke, East Glacier. Qualification: Outdoor industry professional. Schuschke is a Substitute Teacher and Expedition Leader for Natural Habitat Adventures.

The advisory council’s work will center around broad objectives including:

Maintaining and enhancing human safety;

• Ensuring a healthy and sustainable grizzly bear population;

• Improving timely and effective response to conflicts involving grizzly bears;

• Engaging all partners in grizzly-related outreach and conflict prevention; and

• Improving intergovernmental, interagency, and tribal coordination.

Currently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), in cooperation with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Blackfeet and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, all manage grizzly bears in Montana as “threatened” under authority of the Endangered Species Act.

In Montana, FWP is responsible for much of the day-to-day management of bears. FWS has attempted to delist grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and may delist them in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. Whether listed or not, it is expected that grizzly populations will continue to grow and expand, and that conflicts and management challenges will continue to increase.

“This council can play a critical role in providing timely and durable solutions to bear management and conservation that work for Montana in the long-term,” Bullock continued.

Governor Bullock has asked FWP to provide support to the council and will be making space for all key partners with a role in bear management to be closely involved with the group’s work. Staff from the Center for Natural Resources & Environmental Policy at the University of Montana will facilitate council meetings.

All applicants and the public are encouraged to engage with the council’s work, and FWP intends to include many opportunities to provide input and for opportunity to inform the council’s deliberations. For more information on the council, including membership, meeting information and ways to be involved, go to fwp.mt.gov.

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