KVRI looks to minimize bear encounters

by Tonia Brooks
Staff Writer | June 18, 2020 1:00 AM

BONNERS FERRY — On Monday, June 15 the Kootenai Valley Resource Initiative (KVRI) met to discuss a variety of business topics to include updates to the Grizzly Bear Subcommittee.

The Grizzly Bear Subcommittee is composed of a group of interested agency people along with local community members in an effort to mitigate negative human and bear interactions.

On Tuesday, May 26, a NIXLE alert went out to Boundary County residents to alert anyone signed up to receive email messages and or text messages from the alert system that a young grizzly bear was in the Porthill area.

The alert read, “Advisory: Idaho Fish & Game Alert: Dear Nixle User, Be advised-a young grizzly bear has caused extensive damage to an unprotected beehive near Porthill. Ensure all food attractants are secured. Be bear aware!”

The subcommittee believes that the NIXLE alerts will work, though it is a work in progress. Subscribers to NIXLE will not be notified for all bears that are sighted and called in, but will get noticed when problem bears are about.

Subcommittee members agree that everyone should be taking precautions.

There are three primary sources of bear attractants, regardless of the species of bear, that cause bears to become problem bears. These are; garbage (the most attractive to bears), fruiting trees and small livestock such as chickens, pigs and goats.

Residents should limit attractants to help the bear-human cohabitation efforts.

Boundary County Commissioner, Dan Dinning, reiterated that last fall during a Grizzly Bear Subcommittee meeting, Brain Johnson of Idaho Department of Fish and Game stated that there were ten known grizzly bears on the North Bench. Dinning reminded the group of the sow and two cubs spotted at the Old Highway 1 Loop earlier this year.

Recently, a grizzly bear was seen damaging unprotected bee hives in the Porthill area as well.

Chip Corsi, the Regional Supervisor for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, explained, “the honey bee bear was a yearling female that got hit on the highway on Friday night a couple days ago, and we are investigating another mortality on the west side.”

The grizzly bear is listed as endangered on the Wildlife Endangered Species list and is a protected animal that is said to be far from recovery. Grizzlies cannot be killed by residents for nuisance issues such as livestock attacks or property loss.

If community members see a bear or are having problems with a bear, they are urged to contact the Boundary County Sheriff’s Office at 208-267-3151, who will disseminate the information.

The NIXLE service for weather alerts, emergencies, road issues, wildfires, accidents, etc. can be accessed by texting the zip code where you would like information to 888-777; for Boundary County, use the 83805 or 83853 zip code.

The Kootenai Valley Resource Initiative representative Rhonda Vogl can be contacted at rvogl@kootenai.org or 208-267-3519.