Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks announced today that it will host three open houses later this month to examine a draft of an updated long-term conservation and management plan for grizzly bears in southwestern Montana.
The draft plan, developed over the past year in conjunction with a programmatic environmental impact statement, addresses issues associated with state management options once the area's more than 700 grizzly bears are removed from the federal list of threatened species.
The programmatic EIS examines an array of issues and two possible alternatives, including no action and the preferred alternative to manage grizzlies as a sustainable, adequately distributed, secure and stable population that won't require federal protections. Each alternative's potential beneficial and adverse environmental, social, and economic impacts are considered.
Some of the issues examined in the EIS include: (1) population monitoring; (2) habitat management; (3) nuisance grizzly bear management; (4) future distribution; and (5) the potential for grizzly hunting.
FWP's open houses will follow Montana Environmental Policy Act requirements and are aimed at discussing and examining responses to previously identified issues, impacts, concerns, and opportunities. Comments will assist FWP in further refining and eventually adopting one of the alternatives.
Open houses are scheduled from 6-8p.m. on the following dates:
FWP will be on hand to discuss the plan and the information displayed. Written comment can be submitted at each open house.
Copies of the draft plan and comment forms are available online at fwp.mt.gov. Click "SW MT Grizzly Bear Management Plan." Public comment on the draft plan and EIS will be accepted through 5 p.m. Sept. 16.
A final decision notice is expected from FWP in October, which would then be considered for approval by the Fish & Wildlife Commission in November. For more information, call 406-444-2612, or visit the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov.