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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

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

October 28, 1997

Laird Robinson 406-329-3434
Sharon Rose 303-236-7917, x 415

Public Comment Period for Grizzly Bears in Bitterroot Ecosystem Extended

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is extending the deadline for public comments on the draft environmental impact statement and proposed rule on grizzly bears in the Bitterroot ecosystem to December 1, 1997. Comments were previously due by November 1.

"In trying to be responsive to requests from the public, and having received requests for additional time to comment," said Chris Servheen, the Service's grizzly bear recovery coordinator, "we have extended the comment period." "By adding 30 days to the comment period, we wanted to give people as much opportunity as possible to provide us with their suggestions and comments before we get into the nitty gritty part of a content analysis on all the comments we've received," Servheen added.

As part of the public comment period to review the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's draft environmental impact statement on grizzly bears in the Bitterroot ecosystem, the Service provided seven public hearings at which the public could ask questions, gather information, and provide testimony regarding the impact statement. These hearings, which were in Challis, Lewiston, Boise and Salmon, Idaho and Hamilton, Missoula, and Helena, Montana, were held in areas that could be affected by proposed grizzly bear activities in the Bitterroot ecosystem.

The alternative preferred by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and described in the draft environmental impact statement calls for the introduction of a minimum of 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.

In addition to the Services preferred alternative, the draft environmental impact statement includes other alternatives, including no grizzly bears, natural recovery of grizzly bears, and the reintroduction of grizzly bears under the threatened status.

Comments should be postmarked no later than December 1, 1997 and mailed to the Grizzly Bear Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 5127, Missoula, MT 59806.

Copies of the environmental impact statement and proposed rule are available at 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.


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