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Bitterroot Grizzly Committee Improperly Closed May Meeting, Official's Letter Says

A grizzly bear walks through the trees near Swan Lake in Yellowstone National Park on June 06, 2015.
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Grizzly bear

The chair of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee penned a letter Wednesday saying its Bitterroot subcommittee improperly closed its meeting to the public earlier this year.  The IGBC and its subcommittees are made of several federal and state agencies, and they meet several times a year to discuss how to best support six distinct ecosystems set up for threatened grizzly bears.

The Bitterroot subcommittee met in May, but closed off a portion of the meeting regarding conversations with outfitters and the future of grizzlies in Idaho.

Several wildlife and conservation groups in June signed onto a letter arguing the move violated open meeting laws in Montana and Idaho.

IGBC Chair Jacqueline Buchanan responded Wednesday saying IGBC meetings can be closed to the public to discuss personnel matters, litigation and other confidential issues.

“When I looked at the agenda, I think clearly the majority of what they talked about should have been open to the public,” she says.

Buchanan says administrative staff will work closer with subcommittees in the future to make sure proper meeting protocols are followed.

In a press release, conservation and wildlife groups said they were happy with Buchanan’s recognition that the meeting was improperly closed to the public.

Copyright 2021 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Aaron is Montana Public Radio's Flathead reporter.