HELENA – The Governor’s Grizzly Bear Advisory Council will convene on October 3rd and 4th in Helena. The council will gather at the Kleffner Ranch, 305 Montana Highway 518, in East Helena. The inaugural meeting will cover the objectives and structure of the council and set the stage for the groups work over the next year. The meeting is open to the public.
The meeting will feature presentations on grizzly bear biology and ecology, management and legal specifications, as well as facilitated discussions on key issues and challenges. There will be an open forum for public comment on both days.
In March, Governor Steve Bullock announced his intention to appoint a citizen advisory council to facilitate a statewide discussion on long-term grizzly bear management and conservation. More than 150 people from across the state applied. FWP says that shows Montanan's are really engaged in this subject because it is a really important issue and impacts a lot of peoples lives.
“It's really important that we are focused on maintaining and enhancing human safety, improving anyway we can, how we respond to conflicts involving grizzly bears, and then just to make sure that we've engaged all partners that we can when it comes to outreach, education and conflict prevention efforts,” says Dillon Tabish, the Regional Information and Education Program Manager, FWP.
Grizzly bear populations have continued to expand in Montana, including into some areas that they have not occupied for decades according to FWP.
There are also more people living, working and recreating in bear county, which means that management challenges and conflicts are increasing in some places, prompting the need for timely solutions. Governor Bullock called for the council to help address some of these challenges and help set a long-term goal.
“We're entering this new era where grizzly bears are recovering on the landscape and retruding to areas where they haven't been in a long time," said Tabish, "We really need to make sure that public safety and conservation is at the forefront of this new era."
Over the next year the advisory council’s work will center around 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.
The council is intentionally representative of the different parts of the Treasure State where grizzlies are currently or may soon be found.
For more information about the council, including an agenda for the upcoming meeting and a list of council members you can click here.