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Montana moves forward with grizzly bear management plan for Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem

Grizzly Bear

Photo credit: Dreamstime

Earlier this week, the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission agreed on a plan that would manage grizzly bears within the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem should federal protections be lifted. The plan is a collaboration between tribes and federal and state agencies that worked together to draft the management strategy, reports.

“Basically it says we will manage for a 90 percent probability of never going below 800 bears, which means in reality we have to manage about 1,000 bears to meet that probability,” Ken McDonald, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) chief of wildlife told “Right now the population is at about 1,050 bears.”

While the plan is now approved, it doesn’t actually change how bears are currently managed.

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“It basically continues the management that we have been doing all along,” said McDonald. “A lot of people think it means we’re going to somehow change our management, but in reality, it just sort of institutionalizes what we’ve already been doing and how we’ve been managing the population.”

It also doesn’t open up a possible grizzly bear hunt anytime in the near future. In fact, if the exact criteria were met to allow grizzly bear hunting, McDonald says that there would be a very small and limited number of licenses available.

“If they were delisted, and if the commission adopted a hunting season, there potentially could be be very limited hunting,” said McDonald. “It would be very conservative, and that hunting would count against the mortality limit just like anything that causes a bear to die.”

Protections were recently restored to Yellowstone grizzly bears by U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen. His decision canceled the hunts that were slated for Wyoming and Idaho. Montana had decided to not hold a hunt immediately following the initial removal of protections from grizzlies earlier this year.


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Matt H. - posted 1 year ago on 12-18-2018 02:20:43 pm

Would be nice to see penalties reduced for shooting a bear in self defense. Bear spray is a joke. If the bears where shot at on a regular basis there would be fewer encouneters. Same goes for home invasions. Grizzlys have no fear of humans at this point. They hunt archery elk hunters . It’s a proven fact. The anti hunters view bears and all animals for that matter as more important than hunters, yet they have done very little to protect habitat as outdoorsman have. I purpose a hiking tax at the same level as outdoorsman have. Our license fees/taxes and passion for the outdoors and wildlife have preserved land and wildlife. If they had to pay $500.00 to legally hike just like we all do it would go a long way in preserving habitat. It might even motivate them to work or if they already do get a second job and contribute $ like the rest of us do. They might not even have time to protest because they have to work like the rest of us.

Jennings S. - posted 1 year ago on 12-15-2018 06:04:22 pm

Hey Warren glad you are interested. I don’t exactly know what to do about it either. All I know is it has me so fired up i am not going to just sit still about it. That gets us no where. I would say to start with some emails to the MT FWP director Martha Williams. Phone 406-444-3186. Email and also Ken McDonald chief wildlife division administrator. Phone 406-444-5645 email We really need to voice our opinion if we want to get things changed.

Warren L. - posted 1 year ago on 12-15-2018 08:20:02 am
Shelton, CT.

so true , so what can we do about it?

Jennings S. - posted 1 year ago on 12-14-2018 07:19:14 pm

This is nothing more than an all out attack against hunters. The population of grizzlies is at an all time high and are moving rapidly into new areas that historically have not been populated with grizzlies. There is absolutely no reason not to allow a regulated hunting season. There will be at least 25 to 50 bears killed anyway by the US Wildlife Service’s per year from bears that are pushed out of their territory into places they will get into trouble I.e. farms, orchards, bird feeders, and garbage. Also they will be killed when they attack and maul hikers. They have had many generations to have become unafraid of people. They are very smart and learn quickly that people are not something to be afraid of mainly because they haven’t been hunted in at least 30 years. They have lost that healthy respect of humans and we will see many more grizzly attacks in the future. This is nothing more than a political pandering to the people that truely don’t understand wildlife management through the use of hunting. Hunters have paid the majority of the bills that finance the management of all wildlife. It’s not fair to anyone to mismanage predators such as bears and wolves at the sake of the very people that finance wildlife management. A very good example is the wolf fiasco that decimated the moose and elk herds for 15 years before any real management started. Despicable.