The Montana Chapter of the Wilderness Society (TWS) named two wildlife biologists from the CSKT Department of Natural Resources as recipients of its Distinguished Service Award at its annual meeting last week. The Wildlife Society Distinguished Service Award recognizes TWS members who have made a long-term commitment to the Society based on at least 20 years of membership and their actions to advance the Society’s mission.
The couple were Shannon Clairmont and the late Stacey Courville. Clairmont and Courville worked together as grizzly bear management specialists for 13 years, from 2006 to 2019.
Retired CSKT Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Management Program Director Dale Becker said in his Distinguished Service Award nomination letter that Clairmont was instrumental in developing the comprehensive wildlife management program. grizzly bear management as part of CKST’s wildlife management program.
Clairmont was a student in the environmental studies program at Salish and Kootenai College in 1996, when he was selected as a wildlife biology intern in a program to educate and train student tribal members. for professional wildlife management biologist positions within the CSKT. This program led him to complete the requirements for a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Biology at the University of Montana.
“While still a student, Shannon began a mission in conjunction with Stacy Courville to develop a comprehensive grizzly bear management program as part of CKST’s wildlife management program,” Becker said. “Together they have worked on all aspects of grizzly bear management on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Shannon provided the CSKT Wildlife program with skills and expertise in capture, tranquilization, handling, tracking, aerial surveys, genetic sample collection, and forest management project planning.
Clairmont as well as Courville were also recognized by the Tribal Council as recipients of an award for outstanding work in grizzly bear conservation and management.
“It was a surprise that came to me about a week before,” Shannon Clairmont, supervising biologist for the NRD wildlife biology program, said of the award. “It’s a real honor to get this from people who have worked with grizzly bears for 30 years or more. I know them and I liked working with them. It is an honor to be included in this award, especially with Stacey and the other winners, and to join the ranks of those who have received this award in the past.
In 1995, Courville was hired to fill a wildlife biologist position with CSKT’s Wildlife Management Program. He first worked on forest management planning, big game survey management and forest carnivore surveys. In 1996, in response to a growing grizzly bear population on the Flathead Indian Reservation and the increased expansion of grizzly bears in the Mission Valley, he was assigned to work on all aspects of grizzly bear management and conservation. for the Tribal Wildlife Management Program. Stacy took on these tasks with extraordinary energy and determination and an exceptional level of expertise in the field.
“Over the next twenty years, Stacy devoted most of her time and energy to collecting data on grizzly bear movements, productivity, genetics, cumulative effects monitoring, planning, developing and reviewing conservation strategies, conservation law enforcement, habitat use, mortality monitoring and grizzly-human conflict management,” Becker said…“[He] served as the CSKT representative on the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem Grizzly Bear Management Sub-Committee. He was recognized by the CSKT Tribal Council as an award recipient for his outstanding work in grizzly bear conservation and management.
The Distinguished Service Award was bittersweet for Clairmont.
“It was kind of a happy day to know that Stacey was included, but really a sad day that he wasn’t there to receive the award,” Clairmont said. “The grizzlies were his life – he took that to heart. It’s been long overdue. He ranked among the best of them. This price is very appropriate.