6th Annual Grizzly Bear Rendezvous - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

6th Annual Grizzly Bear Rendezvous

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MISSOULA -

About 200 people gathered in Bigfork Friday all in the name of helping the Grizzly Bear.

Thousands flock to Montana each year with hopes of seeing the Grizzly Bear in it's natural habitat. Noted wildlife expert Jack Hanna says it's a species worth protecting. "The Grizzly Bear is an icon. You have the Panda in China, you have the Elephant in Africa, the Lion in Africa, the Tiger in Asia. We just happen to be so lucky to have the Grizzly Bear in the North American continent."

In the 1970's the Grizzly was in trouble, especially in Montana, or an area known as the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. "About 20 years ago there were about 250 in the NCDE," according to Hanna.

Now, the same region boasts about one-thousand Grizzly Bears and the population is growing by about three percent a year. That's thanks in large part to the work of people like Erik Wenum. "We've come a long ways."

Erik tracks and collars bears to keep tabs on their population. Its work funded through events like the Grizzly Bear Rendezvous being held tonight at the Hanna Farm in Bigfork.

"From the conservation side it's huge. These are great fundraiser's, they help with being able to hire additional technicians, buy some additional equipment. So yeah, they're great," said Wenum.

The Grizzly Bear is listed as threatened, which is the middle of three federal designations. According to Wenum, "the whole key of these animals is to get them off the threatened list. That's what we did with the Bald Eagle and when you do that, then that means you've done a great job."

Last year's Grizzly Bear Rendezvous brought in about $70,000 and organizers say 100% of the money raised this year goes directly toward projects that help the Grizzly Bear.

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