BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana officials are asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to lift threatened species protections for grizzly bears in the northern part of the state.

The request announced Monday comes after bear populations grew in recent years and run-ins between humans and bruins increased.

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That includes attacks on livestock and periodic maulings of humans.

Gov. Greg Gianforte says removing federal protections would give state wildlife officials more flexibility to deal with conflict bears.

Northwest Montana has the largest concentration of grizzlies in the Lower 48 states, with more than 1,000 bears across an area that includes Glacier National Park.

Wildlife advocates said giving the state more control could lead to overhunting.

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