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The Bear Creek Council

Advocates for Yellowstone's Wildlife
by Dr. Nathan Varley

June 4, 2016

Founded in 1983, the Bear Creek Council (BCC) is a local, all-volunteer, grassroots organization working to conserve and protect the integrity of our environment and our community of Gardiner, Montana, at the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park.  We have had a continuous presence with Yellowstone issues including wolf, grizzly bear, and bison management through advocacy efforts.  We have fought for management that encourages and celebrates these controversial wildlife species on our landscape, inside and outside the park.  We value these native wildlife species and give them voice in decision-making by state and federal managers.  The health of the wildlife and viability of their homes are inextricably linked to our prosperity as a truly wild area and an ecotourism economy.  From our position as being a local, all volunteer organization we have a strong and unique voice in these management debates. BCC has worked to decrease the hunting of wolves along Yellowstone’s boundary.  We have met with Montana state officials to argue our case that these wolves are too valuable to be hunted here.  Our efforts have been successful in lowering the overall quota in recent years.  Currently, a comment period is open--make sure the commissioners know you want low wolf quotas when their final vote takes place in July.  Please send your comments to by June 17. BCC has funded a wolf management curriculum for Montana high schools (and elsewhere) in which students learn about the complexities of wolf management.  Science, politics, and social values are all considered in the lessons, exposing students to a greater depth of knowledge and information on the topic. BCC is opposed the delisting of Yellowstone grizzly bears as being premature.  When the future of so many food sources for the bear is in doubt, and habitat under constant assault, there is no justification for the removal of protections at this time. BCC has been a leader in advocating for a more respectful approach to bison management, calling for an end to the ugly slaughter of bison we witness in our community every winter.  The slaughter of wild bison through hunting is unsafe and gruesome, with locals and visitors forced to endure it each winter, all winter long.  We have encouraged the agencies to look more broadly at an approach that would further expand tolerance for wild bison.  The expansion should include the moving of bison to suitable habitats as wild bison herds.  We would like to see bison moved to the upper Gallatin River where the governor of Montana has recently indicated the state would tolerate bison outside the park.  We have strongly opposed the permitting of mining exploration on Crevice Mountain, north of Gardiner adjacent to the park, as well as, in Emigrant Gulch in Paradise Valley.  These are ecologically sensitive areas that can’t withstand the disruption and inevitable degradation caused by mining. In summary, Bear Creek Council is a diversified organization that advocates for preservation of our natural resources and the human community living or visiting northern Yellowstone.  You can support the efforts of the Bear Creek Council by becoming a member!  This includes membership in our parent organization, Northern Plains Resource Council. Go to this web page with option ‘Affiliate Membership Dues’ and indicate Bear Creek Council.

Also press ‘Yes’ for someone that invited you, and enter Nathan Varley, the current president of BCC.   Thank you so much for your interest.  If you have any questions, please email me at

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