Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center and Patti Sowka recognized for bear-resistant product work MISSOULA

At their recent winter meeting in Missoula, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) met to discuss grizzly bear population recovery. At the meeting, committee members took time to recognize two of their valuable partners who have been helping to reduce human/bear conflicts. The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center (GWDC) in West Yellowstone, MT, and Patti Sowka, a bear conflict specialist from Arlee, MT, were recognized for their outstanding efforts in grizzly bear conservation.

According to Scott Jackson, the Forest Service National Carnivore Program Leader responsible for managing the IGBC bear-resistant products certification program, “Human/bear conflicts are one of the critical management issues. For much of the past two decades, the two award recipients have been actively involved with bear conservation in a number of roles. Recognizing the need for better sanitation solutions, particularly on private lands, both the GWDC and Sowka began assisting IGBC with the Bear-Resistant Products Testing Program in 2003. Since that time their contributions to and support for this program have continued to evolve and grow.”

According to Jackson, “As valued IGBC partners, the professionalism, integrity and dedication they embody have allowed this program to succeed and thrive. For all their persistence, innovation and patience, the IGBC would like to recognize them for their efforts toward enhancing grizzly bear conservation.” Effective sanitation and secure storage of bear attractants are recognized as some of the best ways to help with this goal. With the help of the award recipients, the IGBC has been a leader since the 1980s in designing and evaluating bear-resistant products and in providing practical information to the public.

The recognition awards were given to Sowka for her work as an independent contractor with IGBC, and to the non-profit GWDC’s entire staff. However, special emphasis was made to acknowledge the outstanding individual efforts of GWDC Director John Heine, GWDC Facility Manager Randy Gravatt, as well as their four-legged testing crew. Recently, the GWDC received the 2015 North American Conservation Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) for Grizzly Bear Conservation through the Bear-Resistant Product Testing program. Caption: From left Scott Jackson (IGBC), Patti Sowka, (bear conflict specialist), Tammy Whittington (IGBC)

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