Gallatin Wildlife


Wildlife Advocates for Southwestern Montana


Elk in Yellowstone National Park. Photograph by Clint Nagel taken 08082019.

Already, 2020 is a busy year:


It is only February and it seems as if the threats upon our wildlife and environment are coming at us at a faster pace than we can adapt. Do you ever get tired of playing defense? We are. To state the obvious, we are in challenging times as we enter into this new year. For those involved in the environmental community, that is an understatement of our new year. But that doesn’t mean we are helpless or hopeless. Consistency, unity, advocacy and passion are necessary to combat the overwhelming threats that seem to be imposed upon our wildlife and their habitat today. It is much easier to fight the good fight with the help of others striving for the same cause, whether you are with an organization or as an individual, we invite you to join the Gallatin Wildlife Association (GWA).


What We've Done So Far? 

1. Signed on to comments along with Wyoming Wildlife Advocates and Sierra Club, Wyoming Chapter, and Western Watersheds Project concerning the Wyoming Chronic Wasting Disease Management Plan draft proposal 2019/2020 as sponsored by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.


2. Signed on to comments along with Wyoming Wildlife Advocates and Sierra Club, Wyoming Chapter to Wyoming Game and Fish Department urging them to phase out elk feeding grounds in northwestern Wyoming. 


3. Provided Amicus Brief  on behalf of GWA against the proposed timber sale as part of the North Bridger Forest Health Project.


4. Sent letters to and visited the offices of Senator Daines and Tester urging them to reconsider the public land give-away of the National Bison Range in Moiese, Montana. This National Wildlife Refuge is being transferred into the dead of night to tribal lands of the CSKT. GWA is against this sale as we believe it sets bad precedent not to mention the loss of public bison, the science and the infrastructure that has been bought and paid for by the U.S. Government.


5. Heavily involved in the sponsoring of the 6 annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival.


6. In the midst of writing comments on NEPA changes as proposed by the Trump Adminstration.


And it is only the 10th of February as I write this. But that is not all, the work continues on. Needless to say, I could ramble on, but time, space and your attention, probably say “no”. But let me leave you with a couple of questions. What kind of forest system do we want? What kind of world do we want? We at the Gallatin Wildlife Association, say one that protects the “wild” in wildlife on our lands. If you agree, again please join us.


Clint Nagel, President

Gallatin Wildlife Association


Bozeman's Community's 

Wild and Scenic Film Festival

was a great night. 

February 18, 2020



Last night the Wild and Scenic Film Festival was very well attended. It was great seeing old friends and meeting new ones and socializing with a group of people who want to make the WILD of thing of the future, not just a thing of the past. It is estimated that 400 people attended the event. They viewed some passionate films about wildlife and wilderness, and the threats of climate change and plastic. Even though the subject matter may sound a little depressing, it is necessary to educate and inform the public as to what we all need to do. Hopefully the good friendships, free pizza and soft drinks made the evening a positive force for good for all who attended.


All the numbers aren't in yet, but it seems as if the silent auction did well with the new format as well. Some things have changed over the last several years, some were beyond and outside of our control. But that is okay, we learn to adapt. We were pleased that several of the films shown were actually films by organizations who have representations right here in Bozeman, MT. That wasn't necessarily an accident by-the-way. We wanted to highlight the NGO(s) in our community if we could.


If you attended the event, we would like to hear from you. To tie this all up, just a few pictures here to share the event's activities. 





By the way, if you missed the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, you can view two of the films right here from this webpage. The first is Grizzly Country by Save the Yellowstone Grizzly, next article down and the other is (Re)connecting Wild from Center for Large Landscape Conservation (toward the bottom of this page). 


Gallatin Wildlife Association's meeting of December 3rd with 

Save the Yellowstone Grizzly

was a success!


Save the Yellowstone Grizzly (STYG) provided an informative and emotional presentation on the evening of December 3rd, 2019 before a packed house at Bozeman's Library. David Buth and Vanessa Chavarriaga of Save the Yellowstone Grizzly gave the presentation and shared with the audience a film entitled "Grizzly Country". That film will be shared here, below as we obtained the link from YouTube. Afterwards, we were honored to have founder Doug Peacock and Lance Craighead in our presence to take part of a question and answer period.



Notes from the Meeting will be shared here.


Notes from December 3, 2019


Save the Yellowstone Grizzly

Grizzly can’t take a single season of trophy hunting.


White Bark Pine are functionally gone-95% of WBP are gone because of Climate change. What can we do;  save habitat. WBP are not coming back and there is no comparable replacement. There is some experimental planting of disease resistant WBP, but it takes over 80 years for them to be cone bearing.


The grizzly habitat is expanding because of lack of food, and humans need to adapt. Most people think that habitat expansion means population expansion; that is not true, the population is not expanding.


Friction Areas

  • Hyalite area and all of the recreation.
  • I 90 we need and overpass at Frog Rock. The community needs to work with the Highway Dept.
  • Beartooth, AB front needs protection, for example no mountain biking expansion. This is an important wildlife corridor. An underpass is needed for wildlife to get to the Crazy Mountains.
  • People need education, hunters, ranchers, hikers and homeowners. Bears are on the move and people need to be ready, it is not the bears fault. Homeowners need to store trash and take measures with other attractants like bee hives and apples that are on the ground. Humans seem to lack empathy for wildlife species.
  • Dispel the myth that grizzlies are ferocious. Also people need to realize that grizzlies were a prairie species that got pushed into the mountains and are trying to return.
  • Climate Change is not getting enough focus as a driver of grizzly habitat expansion, one example is that the Fish and Wildlife Service does not recognize CC. Actually, the rate of physical changes of the ecosystem because of CC shows that we are in dire straits and we need to fight with everything we have. For example, in areas with low moisture, if there is a fire there is a vegetative switch from forest to grasslands.
  • 3000 that is the needed grizzly population if grizzlies are to survive for hundreds of years and they are going to need preserves, great chunks of wilderness with protected wildlife corridors that connect them.
  • Domestic sheep are not compatible with grizzlies. For example, the Gravelly Range which has  domestic sheep allotments. The Gravelly Range is also occupied grizzly habitat and is an important wildlife corridor. This is also true of the Sheep Station in the Centennial Mountains. Domestic sheep grazing needs to leave the Gravelly Range and the Centennial Mountains.

Be READY, the Custer Gallatin National

Revised Forest Plan

is soon to be released! We Need to be Heard!


To View GWA's previous comments on the Custer Gallatin National Forest Revised Forest Plan, look here.


1. GWA has amended their Custer Gallatin National Forest Revised Forest Plan comments!


 2. The Link To GWA's Original Comments Can Be Found Here!



Custer/Gallatin National Forest

Renounces Concern for Imperiled Species


In developing a new long-range plan, the Custer/Gallatin National Forest is using the Forest Service 2012 planning rules for the first time. This has produced a serious decline in Forest Service recognition of and support for rare and declining species on the Custer/Gallatin Forest.


The current Forest plan recognizes a 2011 list of sensitive species identified across Region 1 of the Service. The new plan will replace these species with a list of “species of conservation concern” on the Forest.


Currently, Custer/Gallatin recognizes 29 vertebrate wildlife as sensitive species, affording them enhanced concern in management decisions. Of these, 27 are on the Custer Forest; 14 are on the Gallatin Forest. (Twelve occur on both Forests.) The draft Forest plan proposes replacing these with only 2 species – sage grouse and white-tailed prairie dog.


Threats to wildlife, including extinctions, extirpations, fragmented populations and degrading genomes, have been increasing for decades. Thus, the declining focus on imperiled wildlife, from 29 species to 2, seems absurd. Moreover, the draft plan states, as a desired future condition for the Custer/Gallatin: “A complete suite of native species is present, with sufficient numbers and distribution to be adaptable to changing conditions for long-term persistence.” 


The Custer/Gallatin analyzed 91 vertebrate species for possible listing as species of conservation concern. However, ultimate decisions come from the Regional Forester. Apparently, the Forest suggested 6 species for listing – the 2 cited above and 4 that were rejected by the Regional Forester. These 4 are western toad, arctic grayling, westslope cutthroat and Yellowstone cutthroat trout. In a brief meeting with the Regional Forester, Gallatin Wildlife was unable to ask for an explanation of these rejections.

The Forest list of analyzed species failed to include 2 species from the current list of sensitive species – greater prairie-chicken and wolverine. Other notable omissions were moose and swift fox.


Much of the decline in Forest Service emphasis upon imperiled wildlife stems from the “new” 2012 planning rules. New rules require that concern for population viability must be “substantial”. Species that are suspected, but not clearly known to be perennially present on a Forest are not allowed for listing as “of concern”. (Note that this rejects special concern for native species that have been extirpated from the Forest.) The rules allow the Regional Forester to reject listing if a species is present on only a small fraction of the Forest – and missing from most of its native Forest range. Lastly, species may not be listed as of conservation concern if evidence about the species presence, abundance, trends or distribution is considered “insufficient”.  


Having limited local information on rare species is common. The Forest Service rule indicates that the Service is more willing to risk loss of a native species than to risk an erroneous, but conservative, conclusion that a species is imperiled. Nineteen species were cited as having insufficient information in the Custer/Gallatin analysis. Sixteen of these were not identified as “secure”, but were not listed as of concern.


Notably rejected as being of conservation concern are bison (absent from almost all its large native range on the Forest) and bighorn sheep (persisting in small, somewhat isolated herds that, according to much available science, are not adequate for maintaining genetic quality and long-term persistence).


The Forest Service contends that the abandoned category of sensitive species is similar to the new category of species of conservation concern. It seems similarity is quite limited when the Custer/Gallatin goes abruptly from 29 sensitive species to only 2 species of conservation concern.


The real danger lies in the implication that, of all the vertebrate wildlife on the Custer/Gallatin, so many species are not of conservation concern. While the inadequate list of species of concern may diminish Forest Service support for imperiled species, the implication is also misleading to the public.


Clearly, the application of the 2012 planning rule by the Forest and Regional Forester is a step away from wildlife conservation on our National Forest.


Jim Bailey, Belgrade   April 12, 2019


GWA's Support for

 Wildlife Crossings:



GWA would like to thank Montanans for Safe Wildlife Passage (MSWP) and Center for Large Landscape Conservation (CLLC) for providing these videos on wildlife crossings. GWA has long been a proponent of furthering wildlife connectivity and stories such as these in Nevada and Washington are examples of what could be done here in Montana. We would like to see more attention given to these success stories and to that effort, GWA is a proud member of MSWP. For the reason of habitat and corridor fragmentation, wildlife is being prevented from reaching their normal range and habitat. The Wildland Urban Interface is taking its toll on wildlife and because of that it is magnifying the need for big ideas.

One of Our (GWA) Goals: A Wildlife Crossing over I-90 at Bozeman Pass


Examples of Habitat and Corridor Fragmentation:

Pictures taken along the Gallatin Front and Bridger/Bangtail/Gallatin Complex

Pictures were taken by Clint Nagel over a period of time to show the various complexities facing wildlife crossings and the wildland urban interface.


We view one of our most pressing needs is to help facilitate a wildlife crossing over I-90 at or near the vicinity of Bozeman Pass between Bozeman and Livingston. We would like to protect the existing use of a wildlife corridor that is present; perhaps allowing this to become a permeable barrier (rather than an impermeable barrier) to wildlife. That terminology of a permeable barrier is key to use when we write our comments on the Custer Gallatin National Forest Revision Plan. The existing Gallatin-Bridger Connectivity Corridor is one and is part of the totality of wildlife corridors which exists between the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.


One of the highlights of the MSWP summit in December was the presentation of a 30 min film on the history and construction of the project near Snoqualimie Pass in Washington State. That film can be found on YouTube but we also will present that here for you to view. This will provide a better understanding of what has to be done, the scope of the work, time tables, etc.  The video is below.


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