Federal wildlife official blames deer feeder for grizzly bear's death

Tom Holman of Nordman in North Idaho knows his rights.

He has lived on Priest Lake in North Idaho for 40 years, the “crown jewel of Idaho."

It’s in the heart of habitat for one of the most imperiled grizzly bear populations in North America. But that doesn’t change the fact he has the right to leave corn out in his back yard to attract wild animals so he can photograph them.

It’s private property, after all.

The millions of dollars the federal government is spending to recovery grizzly bears in the Selkirk Mountains is its own problem. He’s just trying to make a little extra money as a wildlife photographer selling photos on his website.

It wasn’t his fault that one of the three grizzly bears that were attracted to his corn had to be killed by wildlife officials Oct. 4 because of their concern it might attack someone. That’s their job, after all, to protect people from their bears.

Now Chris Servheen, the grizzly bear recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has another way of looking at the situation. He’s actually blaming Holman.

"People like that might as well just shoot these animals right out," he told the Associated Press. "But the management agencies end up doing the dirty work."

Holman said he was considering suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for slander because they blame him for the grizzly’s death. They pulled the trigger, after all.

That’s like blaming an eastern Idaho elk rancher, who was dumping his gut piles outside his fence, for attracting grizzlies that were threatening his neighbors.

And, federal officials are keeping the number of bears in North Idaho a secret, Holman told the Associated Press. They have been telling the public that only about 40 grizzly bears survive in the Selkirk ecosystem.

But these are the same people who said there weren’t any bears left in the Bitterroot Ecosystem in central Idaho. We now know that wasn’t true because a bow hunter shot one thinking it was a black bear earlier this year.

Holman has voluntarily quit putting out corn for wildlife in the wake of the bear killing. He’s even taken the grizzly bear pictures he was selling for $40 a piece off his web site.

He just wants the federal government to leave him alone. His photography is beautiful and clearly worth the $40.

Check out the landscapes.

Tom Holman

I could not agree with you more.
Tom Holman is a Priest Lake man who loves the lake and has captured it in wonderful images.
Pecky Cox/As The Lake Churns. Priestlaker.com

A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear

Don't miss the tongue-in-cheek point in the last line of the article there...

Small Point of clarification

Not to be too "inside baseball, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as Holman, made the comments to The Spokesman-Review. AP then followed up on Sunday, but their story did not include new information.

Also: I'm fairly new to this blog, but was the original post sarcastic? That's how I read it, but it appears others have taken it seriously...

Anyway, it's a sad situation all around.


The more impact we make on wild places the more we will push wild animals away. Humans have the tendency to consume all of an environment in its wake of the path of progress. As far as the right or wrong of shooting a bear, it is not to blame the wildlife photographer, US Fish and Wildlife should be educated enough that they could have tranqed the animal if they so chose. I have seen bears of all types in the wild many times, and been bluffed charged by enough to soil several pairs of shorts. I believe that bears need to be protected, but at the same time we need to be cautious of our encounters with them.

Shooting a bear is a sad situation whenever it happens, but government agencies need to take responsibility of their own actions. Introducing and increasing bears in wild places makes it necessary for them to roam further into habitated communities. At some point something like this is bound to occur again. US Fish and Wildlife need to educate themselves on better ways to manage. Maybe the proper thing to do is to get our "wonderful" ex-governor to take a better look at his position under the "Bush" administration and get some funding for Fish and Game to learn how to do their job.

The sad truth is that both sides were wrong. A wildlife photographer who has to bait game to get photos is just plain lazy. Fish and Game that have to shoot first and blame later are just outright irresponsible. Take a look in the mirror gentlemen and look at your own actions first before throwing stones at one another. Realize in essence here that the only victim that was involved in this was the bear. It only did what came naturally.

Out of control government

There are plenty of grizzly bears in North America, just not always between lines drawn on maps. The real problem is federal agencies with plenty of people on the payroll with nothing constructive to do- these wildlife managers are like the federal agencies who allow our forests to burn down. Get the feds out of Idaho! Quit spending exorbitant amounts to reintroduce predator species to areas populated by people and livestock. Educate our kids to the fact that: Wolves and Grizzly Bears are NOT endangered species.
The next generation of federal mismanagement will be reintroducing mammoths and sabre tooth tigers from DNA cloning. It's time to quit playing God and effectively manage our evolved habitat.

Tom Holman

I grew up in Nordman and as far back as I can recall as a small child my grandparents and parents always put corn or other grains out for the deer, birds, squirrels, etc. Every morning we would look out the window and see such a beautiful sight. (The one thing about moving away to the city that I miss more than you can imagine). Hummingbird feeders and bird feeders can be found at nearly every home you visit.

I have read blogs lately that blame Tom Holman for the death of the grizzly; I have also read those that claim he is baiting animals and that he is a lazy photographer. I know Tom Holman better than most; I know that he loves Priest Lake and all the wildlife in his surroundings. He did not become a photographer for the money; he took pictures because of his love for the animals and scenery. This is his home and his intentions were to only share with everyone the joys of the wildlife he sees each day. He is very sad about the grizzly being killed as we all are, but he did nothing to provoke the Game Dept to kill the bear. The killing is on their heads and now they are trying to place the blame elsewhere. After decades of feeding deer corn, a bear wandered into the yard, at that time the deer feeding stopped for safety reasons. The Game Dept makes it sound like he was baiting the bear, and on top of that over a long period of time.

I do have a question for the Game Dept. In the Spokesman Review there was an article with a map showing the grizzlies route back to Nordman after being relocated north of Bonners Ferry. My question is very simple... Why did the bear travel twice the distance to go to Dover (Sandpoint area) Idaho then turn up and travel half the distance back to Bonners Ferry to Nordman? If the bear was being baited by Tom then wouldn't the bear choose to travel half the distance and go straight to Nordman? Hmm? What was in Dover that the bear wanted so badly that he would travel twice as far to get it? Perhaps someone had better corn in their backyard?!? The Game Dept is saying that we should not feed wildlife for it is unsafe and not right for the animals. I can see where they may have an argument due to the animals not feeding themselves. Since we are blaming Tom for the grizzly incident then I propose that we blame the manufacturers of hummingbird feeders, bird houses etc; let’s not stop there, we need to blame anyone who may purchase or build a bird house or bird feeder as well. I am guilty and should be prosecuted; heck I’ve even thrown corn out for the deer, quail and pheasant in my back yard. Let’s get real people!

The grizzly population has grown significantly as have the moose. They are both a major hazard in the Nordman area but to our surprise the Game Dept doesn't let the locals know these things. God forbid if we ever get to the point where we can take them off the endangered species list. Wow! If that happened where would they get their precious funding. What a flipp'n scam, pretty soon we will be gating off more mountains and more back roads so not to disturb the jackalope or purple fox, anything for revenue! It really sickens me by the way when I read blogs from people who have never met Tom, or have even visited Priest Lake. Anyone who has ever met Tom would know right away that he is not capable of the things that are being rumored about him. I know that Tom has the support of those who know him in the Priest Lake and Priest River area and that may be all that matters. I wish Tom the best in this matter and he has 100% of my support.

Tom is a very good friend of mine but he is also my father. I think that I know his character as well as anyone who knows him. I wish that the attacks on him would come to an end for he is not deserving of such slanderous remarks. He is more than ready to fight back for what the Game Dept did to the bear and he has the support of many. His heart is heavy however for the death of the bear at the hands of the Game Dept. who is trying to convince him that he is initially to blame. Just a note to you that voice your opinion in blogs on things you have no idea about; I take anything and everything said negatively about my father as a personal attack on my family. It is my suggestion to you that if you truly know what is going on please voice your opinion but if you have no clue of the “real” story stay out of it, you are just making matters worse for all parties involved. If you have any questions or comments for me personally I would be more than happy to correspond with you in this matter. My email address is chrisholman71@msn.com. I look forward to opening your eyes to who Tom Holman really is and not the man that the Game Dept is making him out to be. Christine Holman-Day