The growing numbers of grizzly bears in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho, are rankling ranchers. So the Montana legislature has passed two bills that aim at giving ranchers more rights to kill grizzlies.
But will these laws fly? The will undoubtedly run into conflict with federal regulations for the grizzly, which is still listed as an endangered species.
- “SB 98 expands the circumstances in which a person can kill a grizzly to protect life or property. It also says that because grizzly numbers have recovered, the animal should be removed from the federal endangered species list.”
- “SB 337 changes the role of the state in relocating bears captured in conflicts. If the bear is captured outside of a federal recovery zone, the law prohibits Montana from relocating the animal, meaning federal authorities would be responsible for moving or euthanizing it.”
The status of grizzly bears has been a contentious issue, especially in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem region, which includes parts of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. Grizzly numbers in the region have increased from 136 in 1975 to an estimated 728 in 2019.
In 2017, the Trump administration’s Fish and Wildlife Service de-listed the bear, but a federal judge overruled the decision. The National Park Service discusses the issue here.
Image of a grizzly bear by JillWellington on Pixabay.