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Montana News

Grizzly Hunting Unlikely In 2017, Wildlife Managers Say

A bill that would ban sport hunting of grizzly bears in the lower 48 states gets a hearing in a U.S. House committee Wednesday. It would extend protections for grizzlies even if they’re removed from the endangered species list.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
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Managers in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho have all said it's unlikely any grizzly hunting will be allowed in 2017.

Montana, Wyoming and Idaho officials say they won't declare open season on grizzly bears once federal Endangered Species Act protections are lifted for them in the Yellowstone National Park region.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Thursday announced that it plans to de-list Yellowstone Grizzlies at the end of July. That means that the three states surrounding the park will take over jurisdiction of Yellowstone-area bears. Those states have already submitted management plans that allow for limited hunting.

But state officials say there is no rush, and managers in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho have all said it's unlikely any hunting will be allowed this year.

At a meeting of state, tribal and federal grizzly bear managers in Choteau Tuesday, Martha Williams, the head of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said:

“We often think as a species as being listed and then de-listed. We think of it as a switch. Can we just get to de-listing? It’s a continuum, it’s a process of recovery. It’s not just one day listed and the next day de-listed. And that Montana and the other states have been engaged in this for a long time.”

The federal government previously tried to de-list Yellowstone grizzlies in 2007. A lawsuit stopped that action, saying more study of bears’ food sources was needed. At least one conservation group has said it plans to sue over this de-listing plan as soon as the courts allow it.

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