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USFWS and USDA Providing Additional Support to Montana Livestock Producers

Contacts:

USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Tanya Espinosa 301-851-4040 | Tanya.C.Espinosa@usda.gov

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Joseph Szuszwalak, 720-557-3848 | joseph_szuszwalak@fws.gov

(Washington, D.C., June 3, 2020)
 As a result of increased grizzly bear depredations on livestock, the U.S. Department of Interior’s (DOI) Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) are collaborating to provide additional support to Montana livestock producers.

This collaboration includes APHIS Wildlife Service (WS) program experts more effectively addressing depredating bears and FWS updating grizzly bear hazing guidelines, as well as FWS funding additional APHIS WS bear conflict specialists in Montana.

“Working together, we are protecting agriculture and livelihoods, and at the same time, conserving valuable wildlife resources,” said Kevin Shea, Administrator, USDA APHIS.

The USFWS is responsible for managing grizzly bears, which are a federally threatened species and collaborates closely with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks to resolve conflicts with livestock without harming grizzly recovery efforts.  APHIS WS provides expertise and personnel in that effort.

Grizzly bears in Montana are emerging from their dens, and conflicts have begun.  There have been 20 confirmed livestock depredations this calendar year so far.  In Montana, there have been a growing number of conflicts in recent years resulting from expanding populations. 

"Agriculture and tourism are two of the top industries in Montana. They are cornerstones in a healthy, balanced ecosystem, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proud to work side by side with the USDA in this effort,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Aurelia Skipwith.

Through this partnership, two new APHIS seasonal employees funded by FWS will provide operational assistance for producers and others experiencing conflicts with grizzly bears in Montana.  These targeted positions will help address two chronic areas for grizzly predation applying an integrated damage management approach incorporating non-lethal tools and, when necessary, lethal removal to prevent grizzly bears from attacking cattle and sheep.    The new seasonal wildlife specialists will be available this spring to address threats posed by grizzlies in the Gravelly Range covering Madison and Beaverhead counties and the Northern Rocky Mountain Front covering Glacier, Teton, and Pondera counties. 

These seasonal specialists will work from spring through fall.  They complement four other APHIS WS positions that provide non-lethal operational assistance including; one full time fencing technician, a seasonal fencing technician for Glacier, Teton, & Pondera counties funded cost-shared funding from Natural Resources Defense Council, and two range rider positons (one work the summer cattle allotments in the Kootenai National Forest and the other in the Gravelly Mountains on Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest) funded by cost-shared funding from Defenders of Wildlife. These are jointly funded by Congress and non-government organizations. 

DOI Secretary David Bernhardt, visited Montana in October and heard producers' concerns firsthand.   

A strong partnership with USFWS, APHIS WS and Montana’s Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks is critical to providing service to local livestock producers and all citizens in Montana. 

Anyone experiencing problems with grizzly bears in Montana or have general questions about management in the state can reach each of the agencies by calling the following numbers:

US FWS (406) 243-4903

USDA WS

(406) 657-6464 (statewide)

(406) 439-5943 (western Montana)

(406) 200-2180 (eastern Montana)

Montana’s Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks – (406) 444-2612

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