States won’t rush approval of Yellowstone grizzly hunts

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Latest on removing Yellowstone region grizzly bears from federal protections (all times local):

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4:15 p.m.

Wyoming, Montana and Idaho officials say they won’t declare open season on grizzly bears once federal Endangered Species Act protections are lifted for the bruins in the Yellowstone National Park region.

The three states that will take over jurisdiction of Yellowstone-area bears once federal protections are lifted this summer have submitted management plans that allow for limited hunting.

But state officials say there is no rush. Brian Nesvik of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Laurie Wolf of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks both say it’s unlikely any hunting will be allowed this year.

Nesvik says rules still must be developed, and Wolf says her agency is still focused on bear conservation.

Idaho officials also say it’s too early to discuss a possible hunting season.

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1:30 p.m.

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter is welcoming the delisting of grizzlies in Yellowstone and says the state is ready to start managing the bears.

Otter says Idaho has been on the forefront of Yellowstone grizzly bear recovery for many years and that the population has been recovered for more than decade.

He says officials in the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and Office of Species Conservation will review the final delisting before making any decisions about specifics.

State officials say it’s too early to discuss a possible grizzly bear hunting season in Idaho.

Grizzlies have been protected under the Endangered Species Act for more than 40 years.

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12:45 p.m.

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead has praised the decision to take grizzlies in Yellowstone off the threatened species list, calling it long overdue.

Grizzlies have been protected under the Endangered Species Act for more than 40 years.

Mead says grizzly numbers have sufficiently recovered to justify removing the big bears from federal protection. He says he asked the Interior Department in 2013 to delist grizzly…

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