Thank you to Tristan Scott and the Flathead Beacon for shedding light on the recent grizzly bear deaths along the BNSF railway tracks. I was deeply disappointed to see that this continues to be a common occurrence.
Despite some positive steps taken by BNSF over the years – notably to clean up grain spills – the fact that the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) has still not been finalized suggests that BNSF is biding time in hopes that bears are delisted before they have to make investments to prevent these fatalities. The mitigation funds the 2021 draft plan promised would greatly aid both the Blackfeet Nation and Montana’s grizzly bear recovery efforts by funding three bear technicians, positions key to reducing conflicts between people and bears. The plan would also provide small investments in cost-effective technologies like electric fencing and bear resistant garbage cans.
The HCP has been in limbo for nearly three years and like bear managers across the region, I don’t understand why the US Fish and Wildlife Service is not holding BNSF accountable.
Letting this grim situation drag on undermines grizzly recovery efforts and possible delisting. Thanks for shedding light on this unfortunate and largely avoidable situation.
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