Montana Senator Steve Daines pressed Interior Secretary Deb Haaland at a U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Friday to finally remove grizzly bears from two ecosystems from the Endangered Species Act.

He referenced two human deaths in Montana caused by grizzly bears.

“Conflicts with grizzlies are on the rise,” said Daines. “In Montana we have tragically already had two Grizzly human fatalities. This year there was a bicyclist who was traveling across our state. She had a tent pitched in Ovando Montana, back behind the museum. It’s a small town and the grizzly bear came into town and ripped her out of the tent and brutally killed her.”

Daines said Montana has an excellent record in managing wildlife.

“Montana has a proven track record of conserving recovered predators and is more than ready to assume responsibility of managing the grizzly bear for the sake of our communities, for our ranchers, for other wildlife, and the bear itself” he said. “It is time to restore management back to the state.”

Secretary Haaland expressed her condolences for the victims.

“Senator, if you'll permit me to just say I'm sorry for the loss of your constituents,” said Secretary Haaland. “It's a very sad story. And, yes the ongoing recovery is a remarkable success for the act.”.

However, Haaland waffled on whether she would agree to delist the grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) and the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE).

“Senator we're more than happy to speak with you to work with you to make sure that we're listening,” she said. “We're always happy to work with Congress and this issue is no different.”

Under the Endangered Species Act, once a species is biologically recovered, the Fish and Wildlife Service is supposed to delist it and return management to the state.

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