Supporters of the bill included ranchers along the Rocky Mountain Front who have been outspoken as the bears expand east onto the plains.
But opponents of the bill pointed out that the “threatening” livestock provision conflicts with federal law. As long as the bears remain federally protected, state law is trumped. The bill could give ranchers a false impression of when they can and cannot shoot bears in defense of life or property, critics have said.
Gianforte announced the signing of SB 98 on Wednesday.
“Grizzly bear populations are recovered in Montana,” a spokesperson for the governor said. “If grizzly bear management is turned over to the state, this bill ensures Montanans can protect themselves and their livestock from growing predator populations.”
SB 337 also makes declarations that grizzly bears are recovered and should be put under state management. The bill then makes two important changes on how Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks will…