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State fish and wildlife officials to vote on hunting and fishing regulations

Gray wolf. File photo.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (PD)

The commission that oversees management of Montana’s fish and wildlife is meeting in Helena on Aug. 17. Commissioners will vote on hunting, fishing and trapping regulations in the meeting.

August’s Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting will focus on adopting several changes passed by lawmakers in the 2023 session for how Montana would manage grizzlies upon delisting. The changes include guidelines for killing bears in human and livestock conflicts and facilitating movement between Montana’s geographically separated grizzly populations.

In light of population growth and apparent range expansion, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) has requested grizzlies be removed from the endangered species list and returned to state management. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently studying whether or not populations have sufficiently recovered to allow delisting.

Commissioners will pass quotas for this year’s wolf hunting and trapping season. FWP has proposed lower statewide quotas this year following population declines from last year’s season. Managers are working to reduce Montana’s wolf population by 40%, as required by the 2021 legislature. FWP is in the process of updating statewide management plans for wolves, as well as grizzly bears and elk.

Commissioners will also vote on catch, kill and report regulations for smallmouth bass in the lower Bitterroot River. The invasive fish was found in the river for the first time last month.

Ellis Juhlin is MTPR's Rocky Mountain Front reporter. Ellis previously worked as a science reporter at Utah Public Radio and a reporter at Yellowstone Public Radio. She has a Master's Degree in Ecology from Utah State University. She's an average birder and wants you to keep your cat indoors. She has two dogs, one of which is afraid of birds.
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