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Black bear in thimbleberry bushes
Photographer Ted Chase almost stumbled over a black bear in the thimbleberry bushes along the Rocky Mountain Front near the border of Glacier National Park. During the trip, in July, Chase spotted 26 piles of bear scat on the trail.

HELENA — The Senate is backing a bill that reduces from five days to 24 hours the time hunters have to wait after purchasing a license to hunt black bears.

Republican Sen. Fred Thomas of Stevensville said House Bill 278 would allow for consistency in the law by requiring the same waiting period to hunt bears as that for wolves.

Opponents argued that the measure would increase incidences of poaching. They point to a 1994 Fish, Wildlife and Parks study that concluded that Montanans preferred the five-day waiting period.

Some 28,000 bear hunting licenses were sold last year.

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The measure passed 27-22 in an initial vote and will need to pass a final vote before heading to the governor's office.

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