Transplanted grizzly hit by train
Along Clark Fork River west of Noxon
by Brent Shrum, Kootenai Valley Record
November 4, 2008
A 3-year-old female grizzly bear transplanted in July to the Cabinet Mountains is dead after being apparently hit by a train along the Clark Fork River west of Noxon.
The dead bear was recovered from the Clark Fork about 3 miles west of the Bull River junction and Highway 200 by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Warden Sgt. Jon Obst and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Wayne Kasworm. The cause of death was unknown at the time.
The bear was X-rayed in Kalispell, and there was no sign of the bear having been shot. Further investigation indicated wounds consistent with being struck by a large object.
Montana Rail Link reported that a train struck a possible grizzly bear the night of Oct. 20, between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. along the Clark Fork River in the same area where the bear was recovered. GPS information retrieved from the bearís radio collar confirmed that the bear was on or near the railroad tracks when the last reading was taken before a mortality signal was received.
This grizzly bear was moved July 24 from the Stillwater Drainage near Trego to the Cabinet Mountains as part of the grizzly bear augmentation project for the Cabinets. A second young female grizzly, caught in the Swan Valley, was moved to the East Fork of the Bull River on Aug. 8.
The current population of grizzlies in the Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem is estimated at around 50 bears, with 15 to 25 in the Cabinets and 25 to 35 in the Yaak. The goal of the augmentation project is to get the population to around 100 bears.
FWP and USFWS are conducting a joint investigation into the death of another grizzly bear found on Oct. 24 in the Fishtrap drainage of the Thompson River about 18 miles north of Thompson Falls. The bearís carcass was significantly decomposed.
Anyone with information related to this mortality can contact Warden Capt. Lee Anderson directly at (406) 751-4561, the USFWS agent in Missoula at (406) 329-3000, or dial 1-800-TIP-MONT. Callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.
Editorís Note: See the November 3, 2008 edition of the Kootenai Valley Record for the printed version of this story. The Kootenai Valley Record publishes once a week, on Monday, in Libby, Montana. They are a locally owned community newspaper, located at 403 Mineral Avenue in Libby. For in-county and out-of-county subscription information, call 406-293-2424, or e-mail email@example.com.