BILLINGS, Mont. -- Montana wildlife officials are recommending against holding a grizzly bear hunt in 2018 after the animals lost their federal protections across a three-state region around Yellowstone National Park.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks Director Martha Williams said Thursday the state wants to demonstrate its commitment to the grizzly's long-term recovery.

State wildlife commissioners will consider the matter Feb. 15.

An estimated 700 grizzly bears roam the Yellowstone region of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho - up from an estimated 136 when they were given protections in the mid-1970s.

Federal officials lifted protections last year, opening the door to hunts for the first time in decades.

Wyoming game commissioners last month said they want grizzly hunting regulations to be drafted. That means hunting could begin this fall.

No Idaho decision has been made.