Grizzly bear protections in Yellowstone National park are ending

Posted June 24, 2017

For the first time in more than 40 years, grizzly bears of Yellowstone National Park are leaving the federal government's protections list for endangered species.

The Trump administration announced Thursday that the Yellowstone grizzly bear population is losing its endangered species protections-a decision conservation groups say is "flawed and premature" and could make the iconic species the target of trophy hunters. To address this, FWS has suggested that, as a last resort, it could always just capture and then truck a few northern bears south to introduce new genes to the Yellowstone population-an artificial solution that would undermine the very concept, and ultimate goal, of a "recovered" species.

Lifting the bears' protected status will open them to trophy hunting outside the boundaries of Yellowstone park as grizzly oversight is turned over to state wildlife managers in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, as well as to native American tribes in the region.

The question that has plagued every conversation about Yellowstone grizzlies for well over a year was finally answered today. "The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, which includes the FWS and Wyoming Game and Fish, must be commended for its years of great work". Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, for example, has long advocated for the bears to be pulled off the endangered list. "This welcome decision to delist the grizzly bear from the Endangered Species Act rightly returns management of the Yellowstone grizzly to where it should be, under the control of experts in Wyoming, not Washington". The jump in numbers prompted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife services to conclude the population has recovered. Now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says Yellowstone area grizzlies are no longer threatened...

SCI has always been involved in the grizzly bear delisting saga. "Those states will individually decide if grizzly bear hunting will take place by sticking to some mortality limits, and that's any human-caused mortality, whether it's being hit by a truck or a management removal, or if the states do have a hunt, that mortality limit would apply".

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There used to be about 50,000 grizzly bears ranging over large parts of North America but their population dropped substantially in the 1850s due to widespread hunting and trapping.

But Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke sees the bears' recovery as "one of America's great conservation succeses".

Any decision to hunt bears in Wyoming will likely happen next year after the public has time to comment, a Wyoming Game and Fish Department official told The Daily Caller News Foundation. "Defenders of Wildlife is going through the delisting rule with a fine-toothed comb, and we will hold federal and state wildlife and land management agencies accountable for strong stewardship and management of grizzly bears and their habitat post delisting". "As a Montanan, I am proud of what we've achieved together". "I thank all involved in the delisting effort".

Under the Obama administration, the service again proposed a delisting in March 2016 after an extensive scientific peer review of the bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem [GYE].