Montana has asked the feds to spare its grizzly bears from hunting. Here’s what that could mean.

Montana has asked the federal government to extend protection for the state’s grizzly bears. This would allow hunting for the first time in more than 20 years, and spare the Yellowstone-area bears the controversy over the Yellowstone grizzly’s protections that has bubbled up in parts of other state wildlife agencies.

The state does not yet have nearly enough grizzlies to force the decision. Yellowstone is home to 700 of the estimated 1,300 bears in the Yellowstone region, including around 400 confirmed to be living in the national park. It is estimated that there are fewer than 150 individuals in parts of south central Montana. The neighboring states of Wyoming and Idaho have a much larger population. The Interior Department previously found that these states’ management plans for grizzlies do not present a risk of threats to bears. Montana would need to provide more evidence that bears in its wildlife management areas are in imminent danger before its grizzly bears could be fully considered for removal from federal protections.

The decision to remove Yellowstone’s grizzlies from federal protections is unpopular with environmentalists and lawmakers in other states. Many local residents and business leaders in parts of Montana have also opposed the removal of the protections.

This first request for federal protection of the bear’s came from Idaho in 2016. The state’s congressional delegation has continued to push for national protections, as have lawmakers in Washington, D.C. These politicians have argued that federal protections have hindered the expansion of oil and gas leasing and mining, and caused invasive species such as Asian carp to colonize backyards.

They also argue that grizzlies give up their populations so swiftly that these, as well as other management problems, could be lessened if the grizzlies lost federal protections.

Read the full story at Politico.


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