The Montana legislature is currently in session, and there are many bills the pro-wildlife community must engage on to stand up for the species we love, including gray wolves and grizzly bears. The far-right Governor and republican supermajority in Montana’s legislature are doing everything in their power to wipe wolves and grizzlies off the landscape and to make it more difficult for wildlife preservation voices to be heard. But we will not be silent.
Montana’s anti-carnivore republican supermajority will consider several laws this session targeting grizzly bears and wolves.
At the federal level, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently undergoing a status review of the grizzly bear populations in the Greater Yellowstone and the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystems, brought about by two petitions submitted by Wyoming and Montana to “delist” grizzlies in these areas. If delisted, grizzly bears throughout Montana will lose their protected status under the Endangered Species Act, and management authority will go to the states. If that happens, these anti-grizzly bills would go into effect.
In Montana, one anti-grizzly bear bill is currently available for public testimony.
Public testimony on SB 295 will be accepted between February 10 and 5pm on February 13.
We OPPOSE SB 295.
If the federal government delists grizzly bears, this bill would allow a livestock owner, or a person they authorize, to kill a grizzly bear at any time without a permit if it is attacking or killing livestock. This can happen whether the bear is on public or private land. The bill does not require any non-lethal deterrents to have been used before a livestock owner can kill a bear. The bill would also allow the Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, or livestock owners with a permit issued by FWP, to kill a grizzly bear for “threatening” livestock.
So, livestock owners can place defenseless livestock in grizzly bear habitat—with no nonlethal conflict prevention or deterrence measures in place. And then, if this bill passes, grizzly bears can be killed for “threatening” livestock, which may be as little as existing in close proximity on the landscape. And if a livestock owner perceives that the bear is attacking livestock, they could kill it on the spot.
Here’s how you can oppose the bill:
Go to https://leg.mt.gov/public-testimony/ and under ‘Select the Bill,’ scroll to SB 295. Then, scroll down the page to ‘Select your position on the bill’ and choose opponent, and fill in the remaining boxes. If you’d like to write additional comment or testimony, here are some talking points:
- Grizzly bears have an inherent right to exist on Montana’s landscape
- There are many nonlethal steps a livestock owner can take to prevent and reduce interactions between livestock and bears.
- If the legislature is interested in protecting livestock from bears, it should require and invest in nonlethal conflict prevention and reduction measures
- Ample research shows the benefits of nonlethal conflict deterrence measures to reduce predation on livestock, and that such measures are more effective than killing bears.
- Killing grizzly bears, while allowing livestock to remain unprotected, will not reduce conflict.
Conflicts will ensue so long as the attractants (livestock) remain unsecured; the best way to reduce conflict is to secure human attractants.
Thank you for standing with us to protect Montana’s grizzly bears.