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Eve emerges from den without cub

| June 7, 2006 12:00 AM

By GWEN ALBERS Western News Reporter

There's little hope that Eve, a radio-collared grizzly bear released last fall in the West Cabinets, gave birth to cubs over the winter.

In a related matter, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks by next week will begin trapping for another grizzly to be released in the Cabinets. It's part of an ongoing effort to increase the population. Biologists estimate there are 15 grizzlies in the Cabinets and another 20 to 30 in the Yaak. The recovery goal is for 100 grizzlies in the combined 2,600-square-mile area.

Officials on Oct. 2, 2005, released Eve after trapping her in a leg snare in the Spruce Creek drainage of the North Fork of the Flathead Range. The 250- to 300-pound sow became the first grizzly released in the West Cabinets.

She emerged from hibernation between late April and early May from a den in the south fork of the Callahan Creek drainage area, said Wayne Kasworm, a wildlife biologist with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Since that time, the radio-collar has indicated the grizzly has roamed back and forth between an area roughly 5 miles west of Troy and Ross Creek Cedars, Kasworm said.

"With the amount of moving going on, a bear with newborn cubs wouldn't be able to travel as far as she is going," he said. "She has moved some long distances in a short amount of time. You just wouldn't expect that with newborns. Cubs would follow mom, but not doing that kind of moving."

Eve was fitted with a radio collar to track her whereabouts. Because she is about 7 years old, wildlife officials assumed she could be pregnant.

"She is of sufficient age that she could've been pregnant from last year," Kasworm said.

The bear came from an area where grizzlies are more plentiful.

Eve was chosen for relocation because there was no record of her having had encounters with humans. Biologists also wanted a bear that had not been habituated to human food sources.

FWP in Kalispell will conduct the trapping for another bear in the Flathead.

"This would be a back-country bear with no history of conflicts with humans," Kasworm said. "We're probably looking for a female between 3 and 6 years of age to basically augment the population."