MONTANA – Governor Steve Bullock announced that the Montana Grizzly Bear Advisory Council released its final report after working for a year to provide recommendations and input on the future of grizzly bear management in the state.
“The Grizzly Bear Advisory Council members embraced a true commitment to collaboration in the interest of identifying common ground on a host of issues facing conservation and management of this iconic species,”Governor Bullock said. “I’m grateful for their hard work and look forward to advancing the implementation of many of their recommendations in concert with partners across the state.”
In July 2019, Governor Bullock appointed 18 Montana citizens from across the state with a diversity of views and dedication to working together on the future of grizzly bears in Montana. The Final Report: Recommendations and Input on the Future of Grizzly Bear Management in Montana is a result of the advisory council’s year-long work. The report offers both broad guidance and actionable recommendations for the Governor’s Office, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, the Fish and Wildlife Commission, and other entities with responsibility for grizzly bear management and conservation in Montana.
The advisory council was charged with developing recommendations for fundamental guidance and direction on key issues and challenges related to the conservation and management of grizzly bears in Montana, particularly on topics where there is significant variability in public opinion. These issues included connectivity, distribution, conflict prevention and response, transplant protocols, role of hunting, and long-term resource sustainability for the conservation and management of grizzly bears.
Over the course of 15 meetings, the advisory council reviewed the history of grizzly bear recovery and conservation in Montana, interagency management efforts, legal considerations, and grizzly bear distribution. They looked to additional public input to inform their discussions. The University of Montana’s Center for Natural Resources & Environmental Policy facilitated the meetings, and agendas, minutes, video recordings, public input and other resources from the process can all be found online at fwp.mt.gov/gbac.
Public involvement was central to the advisory council. Prior to the pandemic, meetings were open to in-person public attendance and held in various locations around the state. Starting in March, the meetings were live-streamed and included time for public input. More than 16,000 public comments were received during the year-long process.
The recommendations calling for additional planning, funding, rulemaking or other policy implementation and changes would undergo future public processes that include further opportunity for review and input.
The full report can be found at: fwp.mt.gov/gbac.