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Montana news about the environment, natural resources, wildlife, climate change and more.

The Bitterroot ecosystem will get a new new grizzly management plan, officials say

A grizzly bear sow and cub in Yellowstone National Park.
Jim Peaco
National Park Service
A grizzly bear sow and cub in Yellowstone National Park.

Federal wildlife managers have outlined a plan to reassess management of grizzly bears in southwest Montana and central Idaho. The plan follows a court order last month.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will create a plan over the next three and a half years to help grizzlies recolonize in the Bitterroot ecosystem and reduce conflicts between bears and humans in the area.

A federal court ordered the Fish and Wildlife Service to reevaluate its management of grizzlies in the region after environmental groups argued the agency lacked a plan to protect bears that traveled to the Bitterroot. The environmental groups said that prevented bears from re-establishing a population in the ecosystem.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did create a management plan for bears in the region two decades ago when the ecosystem had no known resident grizzlies, but never formalized that plan.

The Fish and Wildlife Service told the court it would craft a new plan from scratch, “because of the change in circumstances arising from individual bears dispersing within the Bitterroot Ecosystem with greater regularity.”

At their peak, grizzly bears numbered more than 50,000 in the Lower 48. They roamed from the West Coast to the Great Plains, from northern Alaska to…

Aaron graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism in 2015 after interning at Minnesota Public Radio. He landed his first reporting gig in Wrangell, Alaska where he enjoyed the remote Alaskan lifestyle and eventually moved back to the road system as the KBBI News Director in Homer, Alaska. He joined the MTPR team in 2019. Aaron now reports on all things in northwest Montana and statewide health care.
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