With grizzly bears expanding their range across much of the western half of Montana, awareness of how to live, recreate and work safely in grizzly bear country is critical.
However, with several organizations, groups and agencies providing grizzly bear education and outreach, the message can sometimes get a bit confusing and the point of contact to provide such information unclear.
To help better coordinate this broad effort, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is hosting a summit next week in Helena to gather people around Montana and neighboring states who work to educate the public on grizzly bears. The purpose of the summit is to explore how the effort can be more efficient, reach more people and be consistent.
“At a basic level, we all want fewer grizzly bear conflicts,” said Greg Lemon, FWP Communication and Education division administrator in Helena. “However, many of us work individually to reach our audiences. This summit will give us to chance to see how we can do better by working together.”
The summit is sponsored by the Montana Outdoor Legacy Foundation and Defenders of Wildlife and will begin with a reception and “trade show” the evening of Jan. 28.
The idea is to have a place where organizations can set up, share and demonstrate their outreach methods and tools for all attendees to see. The following day will include a panel discussion, and breakout sessions. The summit will close the morning of Jan. 30 after the group looks at action items to move forward.
The summit comes as Gov. Steve Bullock’s Grizzly Bear Advisory Council is working through a series of meetings. The council was formed to look at the future of grizzly bear management in the state. One of the topics they’ve taken up has been education and outreach. One output from the summit will be a compendium of organizations doing this work in Montana that will be shared with the council and the public.