HELENA – A Montana state senator is throwing his support behind the effort to take grizzly bears off the endangered species list.
Senator Mike Cuffe, a Republican from Eureka, is proposing a resolution that would urge Montana’s congressional delegation to introduce federal legislation to delist the grizzly.
The senator said he believes the grizzly population has recovered thanks to the time spent on the endangered species list.
Grizzlies have become the center of debate recently as state wildlife officials adopted plans to manage the grizzly population should management be handed over to the states.
Cuffe said delisting the grizzlies would not suddenly remove all protections.
“Many protective measures continue in place. Federal agencies like U.S. Forest Service have already been studying continuing resolutions for grizzly bear protection. This is a not a removal of everything,” Cuffe said.
In September, a U.S. District Court judge in Missoula vacated a ruling by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which removed protections for grizzly bears living outside Yellowstone National Park, a decision applauded by conservation groups. The judge said the agency failed to support its conclusion that the “current Greater Yellowstone population is not threatened by its isolation.”
If delisted, Cuffe said potential hunting of grizzly bears would be up to land and game management officials.
Cuffe said he expects the resolution to move through the legislature fairly quickly.