Wednesday, July 05, 2006



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.. An Associated Press news release in the Helena Independent Record notes the naming of Frank & John Craighead to the Wyoming Outdoor Hall Of Fame. The twins arrived in Jackson in 1934, and made their mark as pioneering ecologists with their 12 year study of the grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park.
.. The pair pioneered the use of radio collars in the study of mammalian ecology, and established standards for excellence in wildlife research that continue to this day. The bears of Yellowstone had then, & have now a documented life style second to none because of this pioneering research,
.. Having scientific integrity of the highest order has always characterized the work of the Craighead's. In the 60's the National Park Service began to wean bears from feeding at dumps. This action precipitated a rift in the relationship between the research team and the NPS. The history of this difference can be found in chapter 5 of "PRESERVING YELLOWSTONE'S NATURAL CONDITIONS; Science and the Perception of Nature" by James A. Pritchard, University of Nebraska Press.

Grizzly fishing in Trout Creek

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.. The Craighead Environmental Research Institute is the result of the continuing efforts of these pioneers. It is the leading scientific advocate for the Yellowstone to Yukon initiative. Their work with the ecology of predators in the Rocky Mountains and the coastal rain forests has continued to engender results that argue for preservation of large areas of habitat for the continued existence of our native wildlife.
.. It is largely due to the efforts of the Craighead twins that the grizzly now faces the prospect of delisting. The delisting debate & controversy has been in discussion since at least 2004, and the National Geographic Society documented the status of the concerns in 2005.

Grizzly bear on snow field

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.. The population of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is large and growing. The total number of grizzly bears is unknown; however the results of the population growth are seen in the displacement and redistribution of other competing predators. It is also seen in the increased number of confrontations with humans.
.. A news report of a human/grizzly encounter just outside of Yellowstone National Park, near the town of West Yellowstone has received wide press coverage -Here & Here. The displacement of black bears has also received coverage because of their greater visibility and their population increase as well.
.. Two weeks ago a black bear was run down by a vehicle in an area not known for bear activity. And a black bear was disposed of by Yellowstone Rangers because it had been forced into close contact with humans & was aggressively seeking food.
.. The ongoing study of bears, and their territorial expansion is expertly covered in the weblog of Bearman. The discussion of population growth, habitat availability, and human conflict will only grow more heated over the next few months and years. It will ultimately determine the fate of both humans and bears.
John Craighead currently lives in Livingston, Mont. Frank Craighead died in Jackson in 2001.