Governor Steve Bullock has announced that he appointed 18 Montana citizens to the Grizzly Bear Advisory Council to facilitate a statewide discussion on long-term grizzly bear management and conservation. Governor Bullock also issued an executive order to guide the council’s deliberations.
“I’m grateful for the incredibly strong interest from Montanans across the state who offered to serve on this council, speaking both to the timeliness of this discussion and the passion for grizzly bears that Montanans share,” Governor Bullock said. “I look forward to this diverse council working together to find balanced ways to conserve bears and meet the needs of Montanans and our state.”
Governor Bullock solicited applications for council membership beginning in April, seeking individuals with a diversity of views and commitment to working together on the future of grizzly bears in Montana. More than 150 people from across the state applied for a spot. Bullock worked in consultation with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) before making his final selections.
Bullock appointed the council to reflect the diverse group of people who have a connection to grizzly bears, including those who live, work and recreate in bear country. The council is intentionally representative of the different parts of the state where grizzlies are currently or may soon be found.
Council membership includes locals:
Kristen Lime, Browning. Qualification: Tribal member. Lime is a rancher and pre-college advisor for Montana Educational Talent Search.
Anne Schuschke, East Glacier. Qualification: Outdoor industry professional. Schuschke is a substitute teacher and expedition leader for Natural Habitat Adventures.
Trina Jo Bradley, Valier. Qualification: Livestock producer. Bradley is a rancher in Pondera County.
The advisory council’s work will center around broad objectives including:
Maintaining and enhancing human safety;
•Ensuring a healthy and sustainable grizzly bear population;
•Improving timely and effective response to conflicts involving grizzly bears;
•Engaging all partners in grizzly-related outreach and conflict prevention; and
•Improving intergovernmental, interagency and tribal coordination.
Currently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), in cooperation with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Blackfeet and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, all manage grizzly bears in Montana as “threatened” under authority of the Endangered Species Act.
In Montana, FWP is responsible for much of the day-to-day management of bears. FWS has attempted to delist grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and may delist them in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. Whether listed or not, it is expected that grizzly populations will continue to grow and expand, and that conflicts and management challenges will continue to increase.
“This council can play a critical role in providing timely and durable solutions to bear management and conservation that work for Montana in the long-term,” Bullock continued.
Governor Bullock has asked FWP to provide support to the council and will be making space for all key partners with a role in bear management to be closely involved with the group’s work. Staff from the Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy at the University of Montana will facilitate council meetings.
All applicants and the public are encouraged to engage with the council’s work, and FWP intends to include many opportunities to provide input and for opportunity to inform the council’s deliberations. For more information on the council, including membership, meeting information and ways to be involved, go to fwp.mt.gov.