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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

 

July 1, 1997

Laird Robinson - Forest Service - 406-329-3434
Chris Servheen - Fish & Wildlife Service - 406-329-3223
Sharon Rose - Fish and Wildlife Service - 303-236-7917 ext 415

U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE ASKS PUBLIC TO COMMENT ON CONCEPT OF REINTRODUCING GRIZZLY BEARS INTO WILDERNESS AREAS IN CENTRAL IDAHO AND WESTERN MONTANA


Following the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's announcement in mid June of its preferred alternative of using a citizen management committee to assist in reintroducing grizzly bears into the Bitterroot Ecosystem, a draft environmental impact statement and proposed rule are now available for review by the public.


As announced in today's Federal Register, the draft environmental impact statement for grizzly bears in the Bitterroot ecosystem is now available. It describes 4 alternative ways that recovery of grizzly bears could be addressed in the Bitterroot ecosystem, the process used to develop the alternatives, and the environmental consequences of implementing each alternative. The proposed rule, which describes in detail what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to help recover grizzly bears in central Idaho and western Montana, is being published separately in the Federal Register on July 2, 1997. Copies of both documents can be obtained by writing or calling the Grizzly Bear Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, University Hall, University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812 (406-329-3223) or available soon on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Mountain-Prairie regional home page at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/species/mammals/grizzly.


Comments on these documents should be sent to the Grizzly Bear Coordinator at address above and will be accepted through October 9, 1997. A copy of the documents will be available for review in local libraries in Montana and Idaho communities in the proposed recovery area in the Bitterroot area and main libraries in Salt Lake City, Utah; Spokane, Washington; and Denver, Colorado.

The alternative preferred by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and described in the draft environmental impact statement calls for the introduction of 3 to 5 bears annually into the Selway-Bitterroot ecosystem as a nonessential experimental population, using a 15-member Citizen Management Committee to be appointed by the Secretary of the Interior in consultation with the governors of Idaho and Montana and the Nez Perce Tribe. The Committee members, which would consist of a cross-section of interests from communities within and adjacent to the recovery and experimental population areas, would serve six-year terms and would consist of seven individuals appointed by the Secretary of Interior based on recommendations of the Governor of Idaho, five members appointed by the Secretary of the Interior based on the recommendations of the Governor of Montana, one member appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture or his/her designee, one member appointed by the Secretary of the Interior or his/her designee, and one member recommended by the Nez Perce Tribe and appointed by the Secretary of the Interior.


Public hearings are scheduled for August 27, 28, and 29, 1997 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the communities listed below. The exact location and other details of each hearing will be announced through local news media and in the Federal Register.


August 27: Salmon, Idaho and Hamilton, Montana

August 28: Missoula, Montana and Lewiston, Montana

August 29: Helena, Montana and Boise, Idaho


Included in the draft environmental impact statement is an evaluation of all of the alternatives considered for recovery of the grizzly bear in the Bitterroot ecosystem:


Alternative 1: Reintroduction of a Nonessential Experimental Population (preferred alternative)

Alternative 2: No Action - Natural Recovery of a Grizzly Bear Population

Alternative 3: No Grizzly Bears

Alternative 4: Reintroduction of a Threatened Population with Full Protection of the Endangered Species Act.


With reproduction occurring only once every three years, recovery of the grizzly bear in the Bitterroot ecosystem, using reintroduction of a minimum of 3-5 animals per year for 5 years, may take as long as 100 years.

 


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