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Grizzly bear predation tour in Boundary County

Bonners Ferry - Grizzly Bear sighting started just after the first of May, North of Bonners Ferry.

Ranchers all along Idaho Highway 1, reported disturbances. Including Darcy Lammers.

"Olivia my youngest ran into the house and said, 'Mom and Dad, I can't find the lambs.' The lambs are inside this pen outside the barn. I went out there and there were wool and blood everywhere," said Lammers.

Outside of the fence, the Lammers found entrails and wool, that's all they could find, they were missing three sheep.

"At first I thought coyotes, maybe a mountain lion but the fence has been pulled down," added Lammers. "At that point, I knew it could only be a bear."

Just up the road a few miles, Chris Smith lost a couple of sheep.

"I went out the next day to do some chores and there were dead animals in the pen," Smith told members of the tour. " I decided then to call the authorities."

That’s where the problems started. The Grizzly bear is on the endangered species list and the red tape ranchers must go through to protect themselves and to address livestock losses is complicated.

"So I think what we need to do is hear the ranchers stories, we need to talk amongst ourselves and we need to come up with a game plan," said Boundary County Farm Bureau President John Kellogg.

Kellogg started getting calls from ranchers and he set up a Grizzly tour, with the aim of getting ranchers, State, and Federal game managers together to talk about concerns.

"I was actually disappointed with the Idaho Fish and Game response. I think they were looking out for the rights of the animal, and I felt like I had no recourse from something that was attacking my livestock and threatening the safety of my family," said Smith.

Smith says Grizzly attacks are not only an economic issue in the county but a safety issue as well. But Federal mangers say they're aware of safety issues, but also aware that the Endangered Species Act is the law of the land.

"The law states that you cannot protect livestock or property and killing a grizzly bear in that regard is not legitimate under the law," said Wayne Kasworm of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

At the Lammers place, Darcy called Conservation Officers and they set up a snare, to catch the Grizzly. Then something alarming happened.

"I had been notified by Fish and Game that there was a collared grizzly bear a mile from my house," said Lammers. "I was standing there with my pistol and I turned around and the bear came up from the back corner of the corral, headed towards us. I didn't know where the kids were, the bear was 20 yards away. I got the kids in the barn and pulled my pistol and held it on the bear. All that went through my mind at that point was that if I pull the trigger, I'm going to jail."

That bear was snared in a trap, but it took US Fish and Wildlife more than 13 hours to get the bear relocated and killed.

"Nobody thought about the safety of my family for more than 13 hours," exclaimed Lammers.

US Fish and Wildlife says their hands are tied, and change will come when bear populations increase.

"We are not quite to the point of talking about delisting at this point, but I'd like to say that we are making progress here, very good progress moving toward those goals," said Kasworm.

Boundary County’s Highway 1 Corridor will continue to see clashes between Grizzly Bears and ranchers, but ranchers and Federal managers talking and working together.