Montana Releases Plans for Grizzly Hunting

Grizzlies haven’t been delisted from the Endangered Species List, but if and when they are Montana will be ready.

 

Montana hasn’t been given the green light to hunt grizzly bears just yet, but if and when it does a framework could be in place for sustainably harvesting the carnivores. The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks department has drafted grizzly hunting regulations which, if passed, go into effect after the question of the species’ delisting is settled.

The proposed regulations would establish a spring and fall season for the bears, with seven districts spread between Interstate 15 and the western border of the Crow Indian Reservation — roughly the southwestern corner of the state. The districts are aptly named Grizzly Bear Management Units (GBMUs).

Tags would cost $150 for a resident hunter, with non-residents paying $1,000. If successful, all hunters would pay an additional $50 fee for a trophy license, enabling the holder to possess and transport their trophy.

Grizzly Bear Management Units (GBMUs) have already been sketched out to provide a framework for future bear hunting. (Image by MFWP)
Grizzly Bear Management Units (GBMUs) have already been sketched out to provide a framework for future bear hunting. (Image by MFWP)

 

The move wasn’t premature on the state’s part, though. The proposed regulations are required by the USFWS for it to even consider delisting the bears, assuring a bear season would be well managed and orderly, not thrown together hastily after the bears are delisted just to allow hunting to occur as quickly as possible.

While the management plan allows for hunting, some argue the unveiled draft is too restrictive. The Montana Standard reported that the spring season will run March 15 through April 20 and the fall season Nov. 10 through Dec. 15, allowing sows with cubs — they hibernate earlier and emerge from their dens later — to be sheltered from hunters to a degree. While the dates seem in keeping with sound management, the Standard said the seasons “will be so restrictive that the state will not allow the shooting of any bear traveling with another bear to avoid killing a female.”

Many scientists have rallied against the proposed delisting, sending a joint letter to the USFWS to object to the changes in the grizzly’s status. Public comment ends tomorrow, May 10, after a 60-day comment period on the delisting.

Comments on the hunting season will be taken by the MFWP through June 17; the department will reportedly take its final action on the proposed regulations at its July meeting.

 

 

Cover photo via iStock

One thought on “Montana Releases Plans for Grizzly Hunting

  1. Every year I purchase black bear and cougar tags from Walmart in Rio Rancho or Albuquerque. I also get a trappers license from the Game office which allows me to hunt bobcat with a firearm. $1 for a habitat stamp allows me to hunt
    in the national forest, dream come true for a former New Jersey resident where land is extremely limited. Very few people use the national forests which is great for me, I practically have the whole place to myself. It’s a shame though, too many people are locking themselves indoors and playing video games. They’re missing out big time. And if few people champion the forests, they’ll get taken apart and sold off to the states and private companies. I buy bear and cougar tags even if I can’t go hunting that year, just so I can tell everyone I’m a hunter. It’s something to be proud of. Everyone should go out and buy tags just to support the system. You can just walk around the woods for an hour or two, and then brag about being a bear hunter.

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