Rerouting the Pacific Northwest Trail would ensure the protection of the bear population

March 16, 2020 11:08 AM

To the editors:

Grizzly bears play a vital role in our ecosystem.

They help regulate the number of other animals in an area. Where bears have disappeared, there is an inordinate number of deer, elk and moose that overgraze the area. This leads to loss of plants and trees for birds and other species to use.

A favorite food of bears is berries and they are instrumental in dispersing the seeds. Because berry seeds pass through unbroken, they are ready to germinate with their own fertilizer.

Bears increase the availability of nitrogen in the ecosystem. While foraging for tree roots or bulbs, bears stir up soil, which increases nitrogen availability. They also leave salmon carcasses, which increase nitrogen.

Grizzly bears occupy less than 2 percent of the area where they once ranged. Conflicts with humans are the greatest cause of the loss of the grizzly population. In any conflict with humans, the bears lose. Humans will shoot out of fear or if a grizzly attacks, the bear gets destroyed. The number of bears in the Yaak is extremely small and anything that threatens their numbers should be avoided.

The Pacific Northwest Trail that is proposed in this ecosystem will lead to human-bear conflicts that will adversely affect the bears. Rerouting the trail will ensure that these conflicts do not take place and that the bears will be able to survive and increase their numbers.

Rerouting the trail is extremely important for the survival of the bears and should be an important consideration in planning for the trail.

Eileen Carney

Libby