Commission backs plan to maintain Montana grizzly population
By Associated Press
BILLINGS, Mont. -
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Montana wildlife commissioners have endorsed a plan to manage the largest grizzly bear population in the Lower 48 states at current levels as federal officials consider lifting protections on the animals.
Thursday's decision sets a population objective of at least 800 bears across a 16,000-square mile (42,000-square kilometer) area of northwestern Montana.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials say they plan to maintain a higher number of animals - roughly 1,000 bears - to give the population a protective buffer.
Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks will take public comments on the proposal before a final decision expected in December.
A population of about 700 grizzlies in and around Yellowstone National Park lost their protected status last year. Wyoming and Idaho plan to allow hunting of the animals this fall.