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Kalispell to host hearing on grizzly population objectives

August 18, 2018

The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission will hold four public hearings this fall, including one in Kalispell, about grizzly bear population objectives.

The commission approved language for a proposed rule that would establish population objectives for grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.

The final public hearing will be held in Kalispell at the Flathead Valley Community College, Arts and Technology Building at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27. Other meetings will be held in Missoula, Great Falls and Conrad.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks staff will explain and answer questions about the proposed population objectives at the hearings and take public comment.

The population objective is for the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, which is one of six designated recovery areas for grizzly bears in the lower-48 states. Grizzly bears in that area are currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, although they have met their recovery criteria and may be proposed for delisting in the future.

The ecosystem subcommittee of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee released a revised conservation strategy for grizzly bears earlier this summer. This document summarizes the commitments and coordinated efforts made by the state, tribal and federal agencies to manage and monitor the grizzly bear population and its habitat upon delisting.

The conservation strategy identifies a demographic monitoring area that is home to the core population of grizzly bears in the ecosystem. The monitoring area is comprised of the primary conservation area (which includes Glacier National Park and parts of five national forests including the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex), and an area identified as zone 1, which is a buffer zone outside the primary conservation area.

The population objective for the area aims to continually maintain a population size above 800 bears with at least 90 percent certainty, or approximately 1,000 grizzly bears in the monitoring area.

Submit comments to Karen Speeg : Wildlife Division, Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT, 59620-0701; or e-mail FWPGRIZZLYBEARARM@mt.gov, no later than Oct. 26.

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