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Proposed resolution urges Congress to take action on Montana area grizzly bears

Thursday, February 14, 2019
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NPS photo by Neal Herbert

A grizzly bear stares through the trees at Yellowstone National Park in November 2014.

When a federal judge put Yellowstone-area grizzly bears back on the endangered species list last fall, it continued a swirl of conflict among wildlife advocates, Native American tribes, hunters, Yellowstone locals and some state lawmakers.

Montana includes all or part of four grizzly bear recovery zones, created by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1993.

Last June, former Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke signaled he’d remove federal protections and allow grizzly hunting in the Greater Yellowstone zone. But wildlife advocates filed a lawsuit, arguing the Yellowstone bears don’t mix with more robust populations near the U.S.-Canada border. The federal court agreed, ruling delisting left Yellowstone grizzlies at risk.

Senate Joint Resolution 6 urges Montana’s Congressional Delegation to delist all grizzly bears in the state. The draft resolution argues that enough genetic interchange exists among Montana’s other grizzly recovery zones that they should be considered a “large interbreeding distinct population.” The resolution also argues that both the North Continental Divide and Greater Yellowstone grizzly recovery zones have met their recovery goals.

Under the Endangered Species Acts, listed animals are managed by the federal government. Delisting Montana’s grizzly bears would return management of the animals back to the state and open the possibility of grizzly hunting.

The Senate Fish and Game Committee will hear SJ 6 at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14, in Room 422.

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