BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Montana won't hold a Yellowstone region grizzly bear hunt in 2018 after state officials said they want to avoid complicating a lawsuit over the animal's legal status.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday against a hunt this year. Commission Chairman Dan Vermillion says the move doesn't mean there won't be a grizzly hunt in the future.
Federal officials last year lifted Endangered Species Act protections for about 700 bears in and around Yellowstone National Park, opening the door to potential hunting.
Indian tribes and environmentalists are challenging the decision in federal court. They say hunting could reverse the species' recovery.
Grizzly hunting in Wyoming could begin this fall. No Idaho decision has been made.
The Yellowstone population has increased from an estimated 136 bears when they were granted protections in the mid-1970s.