Federal study says grizzlies thriving in Montana

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal scientists have documented the largest population of grizzly bears in Montana, a sign that the threatened species could be at long last on the rebound.

Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey announced Tuesday that there are approximately 765 bears in northwestern Montana. Earlier estimates said there were at least 250-350 bears. The results stemmed from a $4.8 million, five-year study of the grizzly bears' DNA that has been criticized by Republican presidential candidate John McCain on the campaign trail as an example of pork barrel spending.

The study was backed by Montana ranchers, farmers and Republican leaders as a step toward easing restrictions in place since 1975 on oil and gas drilling, logging and other development.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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