Wyoming wildlife officials have reduced their proposed female grizzly bear hunting quota inside an area where kills are limited, a change that comes two weeks after environmental groups criticized the process through which allowable kills were divvied up.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department announced Thursday afternoon that it had reduced its proposed quota for female bears inside the population monitoring area from two to one after a coalition of environmental groups raised concerns about how discretionary grizzly kills were split between Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

Last month, the groups accused Montana of giving Wyoming part of its discretionary bear mortality total so Wyoming could have a quota of two female bears. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials denied that such a deal had taken place.

Brian Nesvik, chief game warden for Wyoming Game and Fish, said in a news release that addressing those concerns was part of the rationale for reducing its proposed female quota.

“This is a further effort to ensure our first grizzly bear hunt in over 40 years is conservative,” Nesvik said. “Additionally, the changed proposal reflects our work to address any concerns about the hunting allocation process between the states of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.”

Andrea Santarsiere, a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the groups that criticized the allocation process, said in an emailed statement that the change was welcome but that Wyoming’s hunt is still too aggressive.

“Even with this reduction, however, Wyoming’s hunt is harmful to the recovery of grizzly bears in Wyoming and beyond,” she said.

Greg Lemon, a spokesman for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, declined to comment.

Wyoming’s proposal is the first of its kind for the state since federal protections for the Yellowstone grizzly bear population were removed last summer. It will present the proposal to the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission on May 23.

Conservation groups have been critical of Wyoming’s proposal because it includes hunt areas both inside and outside the population monitoring area, where kills are limited. Outside the monitoring area, the quota is 12, regardless of sex. Inside the monitoring area, the quota for males is 10.

Montana decided against proposing a hunt this year. Idaho wildlife officials approved a hunt for one bear on Thursday.

The basis for the quotas inside the monitoring area comes from a meeting between wildlife officials from the three states in January, where allowable kills were allocated. An agreement between the three states gives Wyoming more than half of the total, which came to 9.86 male bears and 1.45 female bears.

Conflict arose when the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to not hunt and reserve its share of the mortality rather than allow the other states to use it. In late April, The Humane Society, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity and a few other groups wrote a letter to the commission raising concerns that the state had secretly given part of its total to Wyoming so it could exceed its limits.

Wyoming’s decision to reduce the female quota didn’t erase the concern, though. In a statement on Thursday, the Humane Society said Wyoming’s proposed male quota is still beyond the allocation — 10 instead of nine.

Michael Wright can be reached at mwright@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2638. Follow him on Twitter @mj_wright1.

Support quality local journalism. Become a subscriber.

Subscribers get full, survey-free access to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle's award-winning coverage both on our website and in our e-edition, a digital replica of the print edition.