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State commission seeks comment on grizzly relocation sites

| November 16, 2021 7:00 AM

The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission is seeking public comment on proposed grizzly bear relocation sites.

Senate Bill 337, which was passed by the 2021 legislature, requires the Fish and Wildlife Commission to approve all sites where grizzly bears will be relocated by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

FWP staff, working with other land management agencies, have assembled a list of potential release sites in each of the Cabinet-Yaak, Northern Continental Divide, and Greater Yellowstone ecosystems.

Comments will be accepted until 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 22, with final adoption at the December 2021 commission meeting.

In the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, 276 sites are proposed. In the Cabinet-Yaak, there are 59 sites on the list and in the Greater Yellowstone, there are 32.

All proposed relocation sites are located within current grizzly bear distribution and occupied habitat and are located both inside and outside of designated recovery zones.

According to the Senate Bill, FWP will not relocate a grizzly bear that is in conflict and captured outside of a designated recovery zone, although the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or their agents may.

The new statute doesn’t preclude the Fish and Wildlife Service from relocating a bear to any suitable release site. The list proposed by the Fish and Wildlife Commission is only for FWP grizzly bear relocation efforts.

Grizzly bears may be relocated for a variety of reasons, including to avoid conflict, an attempt to increase the population augmentation, such as in the Cabinet-Yaak Recovery Zone, or for the purpose of genetic exchange. Many more sites are proposed than will be used. However, it is important to have many alternatives as specific sites may not be available at the time a bear needs to be relocated.

For more information, including maps and lists of the proposed sites, and to comment, please visit https://fwp.mt.gov/aboutfwp/ public-comment-opportunities.

Comments can also be submitted in writing to FWP Wildlife

Comments, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701 and by email to fwpwld@mt.gov.