Montana Public Radio

wildlife

Cow elk.
PD

A debate over the role of money in deer and elk hunting in Montana has fizzled out in the Legislature.

Grizzly bear. Stock photo.
iStock

WEST YELLOWSTONE, Mont. (AP) — A Montana backcountry guide has died after he was mauled by a large grizzly bear that was probably defending a nearby moose carcass just outside Yellowstone National Park, officials said Monday.

A snare trap
Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks

Gov. Greg Gianforte has signed two bills into law designed to reduce the wolf population in Montana. The new laws extend the wolf trapping season by four weeks and allow wolf trappers to use neck snares.

Grizzly bear historic and current range.
Lisa Landenburger, USGS - Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team. Public domain. Sources: IUCN, M. Proctor, Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team.

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 central Mexico. Facing threats from habitat loss, hunting and conflicts with people and livestock, their numbers dwindled to fewer than 1,000 in the lower 48 by the time the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was implemented in 1975. Today, managers say the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide populations have recovered and are ready for delisting. Here's a timeline of the management actions, court cases and notable events that have shaped grizzly bear recovery since their ESA listing through today.

A grizzly bear mother and cub in Yellowstone Park.
iStock

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wednesday recommended continued federal protections for grizzlies in the continental U.S. Federal officials say the bears still face threats from human population growth and habitat loss. But the report doesn't rule out removing protections for bears in specific regions in the future.

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte is calling his failure to take a required wolf trapping course before trapping and shooting a radio-collared wolf last month a “slight misstep.”

Gianforte was asked about the incident in a press conference Thursday.

"I made a mistake. I’m glad I was able to check the box last night. It was a good refresher for me but in hindsight I wouldn’t have done anything differently," Gianforte said.

A spokesperson for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks says Gianforte took the required course Wednesday night after receiving a written warning.

Grey wolf in Yellowstone Park.
Jim Peaco / National Park Service

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte received a warning from wildlife officials after killing a radio-collared wolf near Yellowstone National Park without first taking a mandated trapper education course — a violation of state hunting regulations, officials said Tuesday.

Map of the Lost Trail Conservation Area vicinity.
USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized a plan to create the Lost Trail Conservation Area in northwest Montana. The conservation-area designation will allow federal officials to purchase easements to protect wildlife and public access. 

Montana legislators heard testimony Friday on a bill that, if passed, would ask voters to amend language in the state constitution related to harvesting and managing wildlife.

Correction 3/11/2021: A previous version of this story implied that a fee was being added to domesticated bison. This fee already exists. House Bill 318 seeks to change the definition of domestic bison to include animals that have ever been subjected to a per-capita fee.

Montana’s legislature is considering four bison-related bills this session. The two bills that would have helped tribal nations expand bison herds were voted down, while tribal leaders say the surviving bills could harm long-standing bison management on reservations.

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