Elk NetworkMontana Initiates Rule-Making Process on Grizzly Management

General | May 18, 2023

Below is a news release from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is looking for approval from the Fish and Wildlife Commission to move forward with a rule making process on administrative rules that address state management of grizzly bears.

The request comes as the Montana Legislature considers Senate Bill 295. The bill would further clarify how Montana will manage grizzly bears once they are removed from the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Specifically, SB 295 speaks to issues of human safety, conflict with livestock, and genetic exchange between grizzly bear recovery areas. Senate Bill 295 also requires the commission adopt administrative rules prior to grizzly bears being delisted. The bill is scheduled for third reading in the Montana House of Representatives today.

Currently, grizzly bears in the lower 48 are listed as threatened under the ESA. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) has identified six grizzly bear recovery areas, of which four are located entirely or in part of Montana. The two most prominent recovery areas are the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). Both the NCDE and the GYE have surpassed recovery goals and are pending a delisting decision by the USFWS. The USFWS has also indicated that state management plans and regulatory structure are critical in considering whether bears in the NCDE and GYE should be delisted.

FWP is currently working on a statewide grizzly bear management plan. Senate Bill 295, and the subsequent administrative rules, aim to put more regulatory structure in place to provide certainty and clarity on grizzly bear management once the animal is delisted.

The public has until May 11 to comment on FWP’s request to the commission to initiate a rule making process. If the commission decides to move forward, FWP staff will develop draft rules and engage in a robust public review process. The Montana Secretary of State defines and implements the ARM development and amendment process, including process steps and timeline.

To comment on whether or not the commission should direct FWP to move forward with rule making, please go online to fwp.mt.gov/aboutfwp/commission/june-2023-meeting.

(Photo credit: Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks)