BILLINGS (AP) — Montana wildlife officials are proposing to maintain the largest grizzly bear population in the Lower 48 states at its current level of about 1,000 animals even if the population loses its federal protections.
A proposed rule released Monday by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks sets a population objective of at least 800 grizzlies in northwestern Montana, an area centered on Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
Spokesman Dillon Tabish says officials would manage for about 1,000 bears to give the population a protective buffer.
State wildlife commissioners will consider the proposal on Thursday. A final decision is expected in December.
Federal and state officials have been laying the groundwork to lift protections for northwestern Montana bears.
Grizzlies in and around Yellowstone National Park lost their protected status last year.