Grizzly wallow

A grizzly bear rests in a mud bog atop a bison carcass on May 12 next to Yellowstone National Park's Blacktail Pond.

HANNAH POTES/Gazette Staff

BILLINGS – Animal advocates are suing Montana officials over rules for grizzly bear hunts that would kick in if the U.S. government moves ahead with its proposal to lift the animals' federal protections.

The Humane Society, Center for Biological Diversity and Bozeman resident Clint Nagel filed the lawsuit Friday in state District Court.

They claim Montana wildlife commissioners approved the rule without providing public notice of its full contents.

State officials expect fewer than 10 bears to be hunted most years.

Grizzly bears in the Lower 48 states have been protected as a threatened species since the 1970s. At least 700 live in the Yellowstone region of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the three states must submit hunting regulations before protections are lifted.

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