Montana Public Radio

Martha Williams

Fish cooking over a campfire.
iStock

Wildlife managers across the region noted a drastic increase in the number of people recreating in bear country this year, but that spike didn’t lead to a bump in conflicts between humans and grizzlies. 

That's the takeaway from a year-end review of grizzly management in the Lower 48 states this week.

Cow elk.
PD

A citizens group met for the first time Thursday to begin the process of revising the 15-year-old statewide elk management plan in Montana.

Elk numbers in Montana have rebounded from about 8,000 in the 1920s to more than 150,000 today. But agreeing on how many of those ungulates there should be — and where — is a complicated affair.

A citizen committee appointed by Gov. Steve Bullock finalized a report on how the state should manage grizzly bears last week. They envisioned a future with fully recovered populations of grizzlies in Montana, but could not agree on what that future looks like, in particular when it comes to hunting.

Hunter with a rifle.
iStock

A group of Montanans working to form consensus over the future of grizzly bear management in the state is divided over the role of hunting as grizzly populations expand.

The governor’s Grizzly Bear Advisory Council, tasked with guiding the future of the bear's management in Montana, released draft recommendations last weekend.

A member of the Governor’s Grizzly Bear Advisory Council writing a note about grizzly connectivity, Oct. 2019.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

Updated: 10/07/19 at 5:15 p.m.

A new council dedicated to building consensus around state grizzly management and paving the way to delisting wrapped up its first round of meetings last week.

Montana Senate President Scott Sales.
Mike Albans

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The president of the Montana Senate is asking the attorney general for an opinion on whether Gov. Steve Bullock illegally allowed the state to purchase a $6.1 million conservation easement on an eastern Montana ranch without approval from the state Land Board.

State law requires the Land Board to approve "land acquisitions" worth more than $100,000.

Lower Madison River in Beartrap Canyon
Mike Cline (PD)

Montana officials on Thursday rejected a plan to limit commercial fishing guides on the Madison River that flows out of Yellowstone National Park, a top fishing destination where the number of days spent angling has more than doubled in recent years.

Divers with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Montana FWP prepare to dive at Tiber Dam to look for adult zebra and/or quagga mussels, August 7, 2017.
Beth Saboe / MontanaPBS

Some boat launches on Tiber Reservoir will be closed this summer to lessen the likelihood of contaminating other Montana lakes and rivers with invasive mussels.

Boaters will only be able to launch from the Tiber Marina and the VFW Campground, where inspectors will be on hand to check for invasive hitchhikers before and after launch, and decontaminate boats if necessary.

Grizzly bear.
(PD)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana wildlife officials are recommending against holding a grizzly bear hunt in 2018 after the animals lost their federal protections across a three-state region around Yellowstone National Park.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks Director Martha Williams said Thursday the state wants to demonstrate its commitment to the grizzly's long-term recovery.

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

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.

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