FWP News: FWP extends comment period on draft grizzly bear management plan, draft EIS
By angelamontana

Posted: December 16, 2022

New deadline is February 4

HELENA – Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is extending the public comment deadline on the draft grizzly bear management plan and associated draft environmental impact statement (EIS) to Feb. 4. The purpose of the draft plan and draft EIS is to guide the long-term management and conservation of grizzly bears across the state.

“We know the holidays are a busy time for people and their families,” FWP Director Hank Worsech said. “We want to make sure people have a chance to share their best ideas with us and so extending the comment period by 30 days will allow for that.”

FWP is required to provide 30 days for public comment on the draft EIS. However, the agency may extend the public comment period for up to an additional 30 days. This extension comes in response to multiple public requests for additional time to review the draft plan and draft EIS.

The draft grizzly bear management plan was informed by existing bear plans and conservation strategies, the federal recovery plan and the work of the Grizzly Bear Advisory Council, appointed under the previous administration in 2019.

The new plan would replace two existing plans – those for western Montana and for southwest Montana – with one statewide plan in which FWP commits to maintaining the long-term viability of grizzly bears while prioritizing human safety. The statewide plan will serve as a framework for the management of grizzly bears now and into the future.

Montana has petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem and supports Wyoming’s petition to delist grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, where they have surpassed recovery goals. Other recovery areas in Montana include the Cabinet-Yaak and Bitterroot ecosystems.

The draft plan will guide management statewide, with particular focus on areas with documented grizzly bear presence, as well as in those places where they are expected to expand. The draft plan addresses how bears will be managed outside of federal recovery zones, including connectivity areas between the zones. The draft EIS addresses potential environmental impacts of implementing the plan.

To review the plan and comment, go online to https://fwp.mt.gov/aboutfwp/public-comment-opportunities/grizzly-bear-management-plan. To comment by mail, send to Wildlife Division, Grizzly Bear Plan and EIS, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620. Comments can also be emailed to fwpwld@mt.gov.

Once the comment period is concluded, FWP staff will review the comments, make adjustments to the draft plan and draft EIS as necessary, and then Director Worsech will issue a record of decision, in accordance with the Montana Environmental Policy Act. The department will then present the plan to the Fish and Wildlife Commission for their review and potential endorsement.

For more information, including the draft plan, EIS, supporting documents and to comment online, please go to https://fwp.mt.gov/aboutfwp/public-comment-opportunities/grizzly-bear-management-plan.

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