Wildlife Control: Grizzly Bear Management

This story is excerpted from MT Lowdown, a weekly newsletter with original reporting and analysis published every Friday.

In anticipation of eventual delisting, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department made a proposal to direct the management of grizzly bears in Montana, which is home to more than half of the under-48 grizzlies.

In an introduction to the environmental impact statement accompanying the plan, FWP Director Henry “Hank” Worsech said the proposal sent by FWP would support a more coordinated approach, increase clarity surrounding the management of grizzlies’ status, and strengthen the regulatory mechanisms required for grizzlies to be delisted.

On Tuesday, the FWP announced the release of three versions of the plan: a 217-page draft proposal, a 202-page environmental impact statement that analyzes potential outcomes if the state adopts the plan, and a 15-page FAQ that highlights some of the plan. Master directives.

Three parts of the plan likely to garner a lot of attention include the state’s strategy for dealing with stray bears outside designated recovery areas, how wildlife managers will deal with bears that come into conflict with humans, for example, by killing livestock or damaging property, and whether the FWP will support a season Grizzly bear hunting.

Before coming close to extinction in the 20th century, grizzly bears were widespread in North America, from the Pacific coast to the Mississippi River. Although conservationists celebrate the fact that grizzly populations are growing and dispersing, that same recovery puts wildlife managers in the difficult position of mitigating conflicts between humans and bears as the two species drive into each other’s habitats.

The USFWS has identified four grizzly recovery areas located at least partially in Montana. The August 2020 report, produced by the Grizzly Bear Advisory Council, stresses the importance of connecting these areas of recovery.

The FWP recommends that bears roaming east of the Continental North ecosystem and the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem “are tolerated only as long as they remain conflict-free” and says that “the grizzly bear will not be a target in areas far from its largely mountainous habitat and on the prairie.” Habitats in which agricultural development predominates.”

The plan includes squishy language regarding population goals, saying that developing minimum, maximum, or optimal statewide population goals “wouldn’t help.”

The proposal also states that grizzlies could be subject to a recreational hunt if the governor-appointed Fish and Wildlife Commission creates one. This hunt is “most likely focused on (although not limited to) areas where contact is unlikely,” the plan continues.

FWP is accepting comments on the plan and environmental impact statement through January 5th.

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