ALTERNATIVE 2 - THE NO ACTION ALTERNATIVE - NATURAL RECOVERY

Alternative 2: The goal is to allow grizzly bears to expand from their current range in north Idaho and northwestern Montana southward into central Idaho and western Montana, and to recolonize the Bitterroot Ecosystem (BE). The ultimate goal is natural recovery of grizzly bears in the BE.

 

SUMMARY

This alternative received little attention when compared to the others. As pointed out by the , Bitterroot National Forest Supervisor at the time, ?Most of the discussions have centered around how bears will be reintroduced, not if they will be reintroduced. It does not appear that the NO Action alternative has received the same considerations as the other alternatives.@

The majority of the respondents who support Alternative 2 feel the time frame of natural recovery would allow everyone to adjust to the presence of bears; therefore reducing bear-human conflicts. Many state that if left alone in the proper habitat , the existing bear population would recover. A popular reason to support this alternative is its low cost. Full protection under the Endangered Species Act is also a favorite argument from many respondents. This means habitat protection and less liberal ?take@ provisions.

!?Natural recovery has the best chance for long tern success if combined with habitat protection and restoration measures.@

!?Please save the taxpayers some money and support Alternative 2.@

Opponents of Alternative 2 feel natural recovery wouldn't happen because it would rely on bears migrating from other ecosystems, and there are no management practices to encourage migration. Some feel this Alternative is an attempt by the federal government to remove the people from public lands or to remove private property rights under the authority of the ESA. Many persons feel the time frame in Alternative 2 is too long. The threat of grizzly bears to human safety is a recurring concern.

!?Grizzly bears attach people, unlike the Fish and Wildlife Service, I do not believe there is an acceptable level of injury and death caused by grizzly bears.@

!?We do not need our forests and other public lands shut down and put people out of jobs to encourage the grizzlies to roam into our back yards and endanger our lives@

Those suggesting modifications to Alternative 2 like the idea of natural recovery, managing corridors between the Cabinet-Yaak and the Bitterroot ecosystem, and oversite of the Citizen Management Committee.

!?Alternative 2 might be a reasonable approach, if the USFWS would undertake a project to provide a viable migration corridor which would link the Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem to the Bitterroot ecosystem.@

!?The proposal should be modified to implement the formation of a CMC to manage grizzly bears...@

 

COMMENTS FAVORING ALTERNATIVE TWO

Cost

Many people comment on the cost of the reintroduction program, and feel Alternative 2 would be the least expensive and a better use of tax dollars.

!?...it does not involve any more bureaucratic spending of our tax monies@

!?Bears should be allowed to reestablish naturally. Reason: Not enough food. Naturally, a few might survive. The cost to have them artificially @planted? is to great.@

 

Purpose and Need

Some respondents question why this EIS process is taking place, there are already grizzly bears in the Bitterroots, and they should be left alone to recover if there is suitable habitat.

!?Let's leave the Bitterroot-Selway as it is yet accept natural recovery if it occurs.@

!?Yes, let the natural forces bring back bears.@

Safety

A number of individuals feel threatened with any possibility of having grizzly bears in the BE, but still feel that Alternative 2 is the best approach to the project. This may be a misinterpretation of the information presented in the DEIS by the public. Some people claim the decision has already been made to recover bears in the BE, so they voice support for the alternative that will be the least restrictive on their lives.

!?...not fond of grizzly bears and don't want to see one. If they must be in Idaho I favor the plan that would let them move back gradually on their own.@

!?... if the bears begin to victimize my cattle, horse, help, or friends, I'll take whatever steps are necessary to protect my private property and face the consequences afterwards.@

 

CRITICISMS OF ALTERNATIVE TWO

Recovery Time

Many respondents feel the time frame outlined in Alternative 2 is too long. They are concerned that without direct manipulation of bears, bears would not find their way back to the Bitterroots.

!?...with grizzly bear's reproductive rate, and it's current dispersal pattern in the northern Rockies, natural recovery might never happen.@

Habitat Protection

A frequent concern expressed by respondents is this alternative does not protect enough habitat for a viable population nor does it call for any type of linkage zone consideration. Without the linkage zones, people feel that the grizzly bear will not be able to recover in the BE.

!?... landscape linkage zones connecting the nearest occupied grizzly habitats must be protected to permit any natural recovery.@

 

Public Access

Some comments express concerns that this alternative is an attempt by the federal government to limit local use of public lands. There is a strong distrust of the federal government and the Fish and Wildlife Service. People do not want the FWS to continue with Section 7 consultation.

! ?I am opposed to road closures@

!?...continues under the ESA to permit land use restrictions by the government against private property owners within or adjacent to the recovery zone.@

SUGGESTED MODIFICATIONS TO ALTERNATIVE TWO

Linkage zones and corridors

Many people suggest this alternative would be more acceptable by adding provisions for linkage zones and habitat management.

!?Alternative 2 could be a more reasonable approach if the USFWS undertook a project to provide a viable migration corridor which would link the Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem to the Bitterroot ecosystem.@

 

Citizen Management Committee

Several people suggest grizzly bears should be allowed to recover naturally while being managed by the Citizen Management Committee as outlined in Alternative 1.