Dec 7, 2012 10:12 AM by Marnee Banks - MTN News

State wants to manage grizzly bear population

HELENA - Contrary to recent newspaper stories, state and federal wildlife officials will not be making decisions about whether or not to hunt grizzly bears anytime soon.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) is part of an interagency group which is working to take the grizzly bear off the endangered species list.

FWP Spokesperson Ron Aasheim says the state is eager to start managing the species. He says once the bear is delisted the state will look at a variety of management tools and hunting will be one option on the table.

However, he says that could be two to three years down the road.

"We've had conflicts with hunters. We have had some hunters killed. We have had some individuals killed that weren't hunting," Aasheim says. "There are encounters every year in the archery season, in the general big game season."

Aasheim says the bigger issue is many Montanans believe the state has more grizzly bears than ever before. And he says in some cases they are right.

"So the state ought to be managing them," Aasheim says. "Let us be a part of that."

In the meantime, FWP is working with its federal partners to make sure the bear gets off the endangered species list.


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