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Public can comment on draft MT grizzly recommendations


Big Sky Connection
Helena, MT – The Grizzly Bear Advisory Council convened by Gov. Steve Bullock is slated to submit its final recommendations on managing the species at the end of August. The public can submit comments on a draft of the document through Tuesday. Comments from Zack Strong, staff attorney and carnivore conservation director, Natural Resources Defense Council; and Clinton Nagel, president, Gallatin Wildlife Association.

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The Grizzly Bear Advisory Council will submit its final recommendations to Gov. Steve Bullock at the end of August. (Jim Peaco/Yellowstone National Park)

Eric Tegethoff

July 31, 2020

HELENA, Mont. - After nearly a year of work, Gov. Steve Bullock's Grizzly Bear Advisory Council has released its draft recommendations on managing the species in Montana. The public can comment on the draft through Tuesday.

Zack Strong, staff attorney and carnivore conservation director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the document includes helpful provisions, such as highlighting the important role of tribal nations in conservation methods.

But he criticized the council's recommendation to deal harshly with grizzlies that expand eastward.

"We should view the grizzly bear population in Montana as important as a whole and view bears as having intrinsic value as individuals, as the document currently recognizes," said Strong. "And I think the emphasis should be on preventing conflicts."

Strong said other parts of the document recognize the usefulness of prevention methods such as electric fencing to reduce the conflict between humans and bears.

Gallatin Wildlife Association President Clinton Nagel said he's happy to see the recommendations emphasize public education on grizzlies. But he said he thinks there's a tension between promoting connectivity of their range and how they're proposed to be managed if they move out of certain zones.

"It seems to be open season to go out there and shoot them when they're trying to make that connectivity," said Nagel. "And those are the bears that would most likely be shot - the ones that stray further away from their natural homes."

Strong said the other concerning provision is on whether grizzlies should be hunted in the future. He said the focus should be on preventing conflicts with people.

"Doing what we can to help grizzlies continue to recover and thrive in this state while providing people the resources they need to keep conflicts from happening," said Strong.

The council is meeting remotely on Wednesday at noon and will submit its final recommendations to the governor at the end of August. People can comment on the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website.


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