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Grizzly bear delisting rules bill gets approved by the Montana Senate



Helena, Montana — If grizzly bears are taken off Montana’s list of endangered and threatened species by the federal government, the state will be able to create its own regulations for how to handle them. This is thanks to the support of the Montana Senate.

On a preliminary vote, Senate Bill 295, sponsored by Republican Sen. Butch Gillespie of Ethridge, was approved 37-13 on Friday. By signing the measure, the state would be obligated to manage grizzlies at their recovered population. Landowners would be permitted to shoot grizzlies that are harming or killing livestock, but they would be required to seek advice from Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks on how to react if a bear is only posing a threat to livestock.

The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem’s grizzly populations may be eligible for delisting, according to a study the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced earlier this month. Those who support SB 295 claim that if they are given permission to assume management, it will bring the state into compliance with federal regulations.

“What this is is a step along the way,” Gillespie said.

On Friday, senators opted to change the law so that the state will adopt rules before delisting takes place, rather than after. Gillespie claimed that the federal government had asked for the modification.

Livestock owners testified in favor of SB 295 at a committee meeting, saying it would provide them more legal certainty. The term “threatening,” according to opponents like a number of conservation organizations, wasn’t clearly defined, and the state should focus more on non-lethal grizzly management.

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