Timeline to restore grizzly bears in Bitterroot released (copy)

Rob Chaney

It will take almost four years to develop a new plan for restoring grizzly bears in wild country along the Montana-Idaho border, according to a proposed workplan submitted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

FWS filed its response on Friday to a federal court ruling ordering the agency to reconsider a grizzly reintroduction plan for the Bitterroot Ecosystem that had lain dormant for 22 years. In Alliance for the Wild Rockies et. al. vs FWS, grizzly recovery coordinator Hilary Cooley and the State of Idaho, U.S. District Judge Don Molloy ruled FWS had “unreasonably delayed” implementing its own 2000 decision to transplant 25 grizzlies to the recovery area.

“Now, almost 40 years have passed, and nothing has been done; no bears, no community advisory committee, no community or other educational instruction in towns or schools for bear safety, safe practices in garbage storage techniques, and other ways to reduce attracting bears,” Molloy wrote on March 15. He gave FWS until April 15 to present an updated timeline.

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