If you’re tired of your desk job, perhaps you will be intrigued by a recent career listing form the Department of the Interior’s US Fish and Wildlife Service: Grizzly Bear Conflict Manager.
The salary range for the job is $79,363 - $103,176 per year, and the location is flexible, within 100 miles of a few towns in Montana.
This leaves one important question though, as Erin McCann, an editor at the New York Times who shared the listing on Twitter, pointed out:
Bears do fight with each other–like when they compete for a mate. But as a pretty solitary species, the need for a third party arbitrator is low. Instead, “grizzly bear conflict” is usually defined as scuttles between bears and property or humans. This includes livestock predation and unexpected encounters (like having one turn up in your backyard because you left the garbage out, or if you run into one while hiking).
What happens after a conflict involves a series of choices, made by the grizzly bear conflict manager. When a “grizzly conflict” is reported, and the grizzly in question is still on the lam, often that bear will be trapped. (You can read and watch a video about trapping bears for research here and here.) Sometimes the bear will simply be released, sometimes it’ll be relocated (away from a ranch or place with livestock, for example). Or, if no other option is available, the bear might be euthanized. “Killing bears is the worst part of my job,” recently-retired conflict specialist Tim Manley has said, according to the Flathead Beacon. “We try to avoid having to do it but when bears become very food-conditioned and start causing property damage and breaking into vehicles, trailers and cabins, those bears are removed.”
We’re in an important moment for the grizzly conflict manager gig. Manley, who worked in Northwest Montana managing grizzlies for nearly 30 years, told the Flathead Beacon that 2021 was one of his busiest years. Human-bear conflict is on the rise, including bear attacks.
As bear populations continue to increase, interactions with bears and humans are only going to get more common. Grizzly bears are a threatened species—not quite endangered, but they are protected. This means that harming or killing them is illegal except in cases of self-defense. But Montana Governor Greg Gianforte is considering lifting the ban on hunting the bears, given the uptick in conflict. The ad notes that the bears belong to a “highly controversial species,” and suggests that candidates should have a “balanced perspective.”
If the gig sounds appealing to you, be aware that the job listing also requires applicants to have not just prior bear handling experience, but also the ability to deal with “large numbers of biting insects.” Fun!