Renowned Conservationist Bob Ream Dies

Professor and lawmaker had profound influence on state conservation issues

By BEACON STAFF and the Associated Press

Bob Ream, whose influence on Montana conservation ranged from scientific research and mentoring students to forming public policy, has died in Helena. He was 80.

Ream was a wildlife biology professor for 28 years at the University of Montana, where he founded the Wilderness Institute, the Wolf Ecology Project and the Wilderness and Civilization program. He served in the Montana House of Representatives from 1983-1997, where he sponsored legislation that created the state’s Stream Access Law, the Montana Superfund law and a law that required restitution for illegally taken wildlife.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester called Ream a champion for Montana.

“His belief that our public lands, wildlife, rivers and streams belonged to every Montanan — not just a select few — is a lasting legacy that will benefit and inspire our state for generations to come,” Tester said in a statement.

Ream was chairman of the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission from 2009 to 2013, presiding over such decisions as delisting gray wolves and managing bison that migrate into Montana from Yellowstone National Park. He also chaired the state Democratic Party for eight years.

“A true, salt-of-the-earth Montanan, public servant, and ardent conservationist, Bob Ream leaves an indelible mark on our great state,” said Max Baucus, former ambassador to China and former Montana U.S. senator. “For many years, Bob was at the forefront of many landmark efforts to enhance our state’s outdoor heritage, protect special places, and further our understanding of Montana’s rich biological diversity.”

While at UM, Ream and his graduate students discovered wolves were recolonizing Montana in the North Fork Flathead River drainage, and their research was used to support efforts to reintroduce the endangered predators into Yellowstone National Park and the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho.

As a member of the FWP commission, he oversaw the management of many species, including the then-recovered wolves.

“Between his strong scientific foundation, his awareness of the regulatory framework as well as (being) a hunter himself, he had a very unique insight from various points of view and perspectives,” said Carolyn Sime, a biologist with FWP. “It’s not just a job. It’s a way of life and a way of being in the world.”

Ream is survived by his wife, Ann Brodsky, and three children.

Funeral arrangements are pending. He died of pancreatic cancer.

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