HELENA — The Governor's Grizzly Bear Advisory Council met for the first time today to put together an action plan for next year.
Governor Steve Bullock established the 18-member advisory council to help the state set a long-term plan for management and conservation of the species.
Over the next two days, members will discuss and create a plan for 2020. That includes maintaining a healthy bear population, improving responses to human-bear conflicts, and inter-agency cooperation on grizzly bear management.
“We’ve pushed them towards the mountains, but they’re expanding back into their historic ranges,” Anne Schuschke, a member of the GBAC said. “So, coming to terms there are more bear-human interactions as our populations increase in rural areas, and their populations are increasing.”
Fellow GBAC member Kameron Kelsey added, “You know, the population of both humans and bears are increasing, quite substantially, and conflicts are obviously going to arise. And so how can we manage the bears and manage the people, educate the people and both live in a beautiful landscape.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed protections for grizzly bears living outside Yellowstone National Park in 2018 but their protection was later restored by a U.S. District Court decision.
There is estimated to be over 1,000 grizzlies living in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.