A grizzly bear killed on Highway 93 last spring now has a place of honor in one of the Inter-agency Grizzly Bear Committee’s bear education trailers.
Missoula taxidermist Dale Manning unveiled the finished mount on Thursday in time for a road trip to Spokane.
“Look at the gold in these hairs – how they reflect when the sun shines through them,” said Chuck Bartlebaugh, director of the IGBC’s Be Bear Aware Campaign. “And the silver hairs on the forearms. It’s a great example of a silvertip grizzly. This is one of the reasons Montana is so great.”
The 650-pound male bear died last spring when a motorist hit it near St. Ignatius on U.S. Highway 93. Confederated Salish and Kootenai
May 23, 2013 | Artisan
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said. “They get real attached to them. We can do four or five shows in a weekend. But every time we stop for gas, we do a program. We just open up the trailer and start handing out brochures. The enthusiasm is great.”
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Tribal wildlife managers donated the carcass to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, under the approval of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The alphabet soup of agencies illustrates the complicated nature of working with an animal in the “threatened” category of the federal endangered species list.
Bartlebaugh said it also points out the need for continuing public education on the bear’s situation. This bear probably cruised the mountain fringes north of Montana Snowbowl ski area, Grant Creek and the Rattlesnake Valley. While it was untagged and showed no evidence of human interaction, it was also carving out a home territory close to a major population center.
“It was real healthy and aloof,” Bartlebaugh said. “It was doing its part to avoid encounters. But it wrecked the car when it got hit.”
FWP bear manager Jamie Jonkel said helping people learn more about bear behavior and needs will keep more grizzlies alive.
“It’s crucial that not only the people who live in grizzly bear country, but those who might relocate to the area receive education on bear safety,” Jonkel said. “This trailer will do just that.”
In addition to the new grizzly bear, the trailer has a mounted 400-pound black bear so people can compare the two. The grizzly has lots of black fur, while black bears can present brown, blond and tan looks. Bartlebaugh said comparing head shapes, back profiles and claws were better methods of distinguishing between the two.
Getting the grizzly in shape for presentation was a challenge, Manning said. When it arrived at his Custom Bird Works and Big Game taxidermy shop, the temperature was close to 80 degrees.
“It was the stinkiest bear you’ve ever seen,” Manning said. “It was bloated up like a Volkswagen. I think everybody at the Bayern Brewery came over to look at it.”
Manning and his crew had to work fast to get the hide cleaned before the fur would start to shed off. Then they sent it to a tanner, and got it back last February.
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“Once we had the hide and form prepared, we had the Boy Scouts from Troop 60 come over and sew it up,” Manning said. “Then we did the finish work.”
The roughly $6,000 project was underwritten by the United Taxidermist Association, of which Manning is an officer. The group has helped provide grizzly and black bear mounts for 10 Be Bear Aware trailers in the campaign.
The Be Bear Aware workers don’t name their bears. They have audiences for that.
“Almost everywhere we go, people start naming them for us,” Bartlebaugh