Grizzly bear Montana

A sow grizzly bear near Camas in northwestern Montana. 

By Keith Ridler, Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Three conservation groups say hunting black bears in national forests in Idaho and Wyoming using bait should be banned because hunters have killed federally protected grizzly bears attracted to the food.

Western Watersheds Project, WildEarth Guardians and Wilderness Watch filed the lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court challenging the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The groups say the federal agencies are violating environmental laws by allowing the practice that the groups say has resulted in the deaths of at least eight grizzly bears since 1995.

The groups also say the bait stations habituate grizzlies to human food.

The U.S. Department of Justice, which defends federal agencies in lawsuits, didn't immediately respond to an inquiry from The Associated Press on Thursday.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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