PROMO Animal - Grizzly Bear in grass - USFWS - Terry Tollefsbol

Montana bill threatens grizzly bear recovery, critics say

USFWS - Terry Tollefsbol
Eric Tegethoff

(Big Sky Connection) Groups advocating for grizzly bear protections are concerned about legislation in Helena that could threaten the population in Montana.  Senate Bill 295 lays out a management policy for grizzlies after they are removed from the endangered species list. 

Derek Goldman, Northern Rockies field representative with the Endangered Species Coalition, warned the bill allows for subjectively defining what a "threatening" bear is.

"Senate Bill 295 is really concerning because it creates three new scenarios for livestock owners to kill grizzly bears outside of any established hunting season, even on public land," he said. 

The Biden administration is reviewing grizzly the bear's endangered status in the Northern Continental Divide and Greater Yellowstone Ecosystems. The bill would protect people and their livestock, Supporters contend. SB 295 has passed the Senate and is expected to pass the House this week, Goldman said.

Goldman added grizzlies are the state animal and are revered by Montanans.

"Unfortunately, it's really clear that the state of Montana wants to manage grizzly bears very aggressively like they do with wolves, and it would roll back grizzly bear conservation and all the success we've had with grizzly bear restoration up to this point," he said. 

Goldman added there are about 1,000 bears in the Northern Continental Divide and nearly the same number in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystems, where they mainly reside in Wyoming. But he noted there are two other ecosystems identified for grizzly bear recovery that have very few bears.