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Entries in Montana grizzly management (4)


No grizzly hunting in Montana for 2018

Dennis Bragg photo(HELENA)- There will be no grizzly bear hunting in Montana, at least not this year. The Montana Wildlife Commission is accepting a recommendation from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks staff to not stage a hunt for the bears near Yellowstone, where the bears were removed from Endangered Species protection last year. 

There had been anticipation Montana may allow a limited hunt for grizzlies in the areas surrounding Yellowstone, where the grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem where taken out of "threatened species" status in a controversial move by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service last year. That decision would leave grizzly management, including possible hunts to limit bear populations, up to the states, including Idaho and Wyoming. 

However, yesterday in Helena, the Wildlife Commission was told there are some problems with Montana scheduling a grizzly hunt later this year. FWP staff note there's still pending litigation challenging the USFWS de-listing. Additionally, there are issues on how to limit the harvest to just a single sow grizzly in addition to half-a-dozen males. Montana could only launch a hunt if there was a single, "independent" sow grizzly available, and FWP staff say that possibility is "very limited."

Idaho is scheduled to discuss a grizzly hunt in March. The Wyoming Wildlife Commission has already directed staff to draw up plans for a hunt this year. 


USFWS awards MT grant for grizzly habitat

Dennis Bragg photo(HELENA)- Montana receives word of a major grant today that will help protect grizzly habitat in the Whitefish Mountains, and will also preserve an area key to the city's water supply.

Haskill Basin is a 3,000-acre area that's been a point of concern for several years. Not only is the basin adjacent to Whitefish Mountain resort and potentially subject to future development, but its also important to wildlife. It's also a source for 75% of the Whitefish municipal water supply. 

Today, Governor Steve Bullock announced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded Montana a $2-million grant to acquire a conservation easement to the land. F.H. Stoltze Land and Lumber will retain ownership to the land itself, and although it remains on the market, the company has already agreed to keep the land for wildlife habitat and recreational use. 

“I’m pleased that the US Fish and Wildlife Service recognizes that collaborative efforts in Montana work.  We continue to find new and innovative ways to protect our wildlife and wild places, while also protecting our economy and quality of life, because we all work together,” said Bullock.

News of the grant award comes a few weeks after the state had come under criticism for plans to selectively log the Stillwater State Forest to the north, with U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy siding with environmental groups who argued the logging would ruin grizzly habitat. 


Bear debate continues with latest court ruling 

Dennis Bragg photo(MISSOULA)- A ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy stopping logging in the Stillwater State Forest is once more illustrating the different opinions over whether grizzly bear populations have "recovered" or need continued protection. 

Last week, Molloy ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hadn't complied with the Endangered Species Act when it gave Montana the go-ahead for select logging in the 93-thousand acre forest near Olney in Northwest Montana. State officials had hoped to perform some select logging to improve the forest health and improve fire safety. But Molloy sided with conservation groups, saying logging and road building would damage grizzly habitat. 

In the 31-page ruling Judge Molloy said the Feds' approval of the state's plans to harvest smaller areas over a period of time to offset impacts on the bears was "arbitrary and capricious" and not based on good science. 

Groups like Earthjustice that brought the suit welcomed the ruling, saying the Stillwater habitat is critical to grizzly migration in the Northern Rockies.

However, the ruling comes at a time when there's increasing debate at the state and federal level as to whether grizzly populations have rebounded to the point the bears should no longer be listed as a "threatened" species. 


Grizzly that killed dozens of sheep will be relocated

Picture shows grizzly and her cab after they were tranquilized Sunday- Loretta Coffman photo via KRTV(DUTTON)- Wildlife managers have decided to relocate a grizzly that killed some 70-sheep on Rocky Mountain Front ranches over the past week.

The adult sow had killed the sheep on three separate ranches, including more than 50-sheep at one ranch. 

Agents were able to locate the bear using her cub's radio collar over the weekend. They tranquilized her and transported her back to Choteau.

Now, KRTV reports the bear will be relocated west of the Divide. 

FWP Grizzly Bear Management Specialist Mike Madel says the bear will be turned loose near Frozen Lake on the North Fork of the Flathead. That's in a remote area west of the main North Fork valley where FWP has relocated numerous problem bears over the past year. 

Because of the destruction caused by this grizzly, Madel says she'll only have one chance to stay out of trouble before being put down.