Jack Hanna Hosting Grizzly Research Fundraiser at Bigfork Home

By Beacon Staff

Jack and Suzi Hanna are hosting a fundraiser event for grizzly bear research at their home in Bigfork this Friday.

The Grizzly Bear Rendezvous, organized by the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Foundation, will help wildlife biologists and grizzly bear specialists count the noses and toes of grizzly bear throughout Montana and a whole lot more by raising money for ongoing grizzly bear research and population counts as this carnivore continues to increase in numbers throughout Montana.

This year’s rendezvous will take place Friday, July 12 from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at the Hannas. Reservations are required in advance of the event by calling or e-mailing (406) 444-6759 and rmullings@mt.gov or gbettas@mt.gov and space is limited.

Jack Hanna is the famous wildlife television host who regularly visits news and celebrity television shows with exotic wildlife to the delight of the audience and hosts, wearing his distinctive leather hat. The Hannas have hosted the Grizzly Bear Rendezvous at their private home for five years and also contribute equipment and cash for ongoing grizzly bear research.

Hanna and top grizzly bear experts from around Montana and North America will answer questions and explain their programs before, during and after the catered meal by Flathead Lake Lodge. Montana’s Old-Time Fiddle Champion Tiffany Boucher, her mother Jennifer and her brother Cody of Sheridan, Montana will provide toe-tapping dance music.

“More bears and more people drive the need for more professionals to manage the bears,” said MFWPF Executive Director George Bettas. As more humans expand into grizzly habitat and the grizzly populations expand, programs to keep bear, human and livestock conflict to a minimum becomes more critical.

Money raised by MFWPF at Grizzly Bear Rendezvous will fund three key elements related to the recovery of grizzly bears in Montana.

The three elements are:

1 – Augmentation of grizzly bears to the Cabinet Mountains. This involves trapping and moving two to three bears annually to the Cabinet mountains where there is good habitat but insufficient bear densities for delisting. We move female bears and occasionally a male bear to add to the population in the Cabinet.

2 – Management of grizzly bears is another critical element. We assist with the trapping and moving of bears that get into people’s bird feeders, garbage cans, animal foods, and the like to keep the bears from being habituated to human/livestock foods. This effort also has an educational component where we educate people about how to keep their properties clean and reduce bear attractants. This year we are helping with the fencing of garbage collection sites as well as providing bear resistant garbage containers from a grant we received for this purpose.

3 – Finally we are assisting with the research involving trend monitoring of the grizzly bear population in Regions 1 and 2. We do this by placing new tracking collars on bears which we trap and which are involved in the trend monitoring research.

MFWPF provides salaries and vehicle fuel and equipment purchases for three grizzly bear management technicians and two University of Montana wildlife interns, thanks in large part to the annual Grizzly Bear Rendezvous.

The 2012 Grizzly Rendezvous at the Hannas’ home raised just short of $70,000 and organizers hope the 2013 Rendezvous will be as successful. Since 1999 MFWPF has raised $1.5 million for grizzly bear management, including money for the Montana Grizzly Bear Recovery Enhancement Project.

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