MTPR

Martha Williams

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.

A fisherman hooks a big one on the Clark Fork River.
Josh Burnham

Montana anglers will now have to purchase an Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Pass — even if they've already bought a fishing license for 2017 — as part of a program passed by the Legislature and signed into law Thursday.

The passes are expected to generate $3.2 million dollars per year to be used in the fight against aquatic invasive species (AIS) that threaten the health of the state's waters.

Mountain Water Company, Missoula, MT.
Cheri Trusler

The legal wrangling over the future of Missoula’s water utility moves to the Montana Supreme Court Friday. Montana Supreme Court justices hear oral arguments in that case at the University of Montana. The city wants to take ownership by condemnation of Mountain Water Company for the legally determined price of $88 million dollars.

Environmental groups are suing to force the Obama administration to impose more restrictions on oil and gas drilling, grazing and other activities blamed for the decline of greater sage grouse across the American West.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services (CC-BY-2)

Tuesday’s announcement that the federal government won't add the greater sage grouse to the endangered species list is being called a historic decision. That’s because the threat of listing spurred state governments, ranchers, the energy industry and environmentalists to come up alternative strategies to protect the bird. Those strategies are being praised by many, but not everyone.