Federal agency plans to lift grizzly protections

By MIKAL OVERTURF/Montana State News

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially proposed to remove Yellowstone grizzly bears from the Federal Endangered Species list on March third of this year. The only grizzly bears affected by the delisting will be bears in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, all other U.S. grizzlies will remain on the list.

Since the mid 1990s, the Yellowstone bear population has grown 4  rcent per year, according to the Interagency Grizzly Bear website.

Yellowstone grizzly bears were previously delisted in 2007. In 2009, after concerns arose about their dwindling food supply, they were listed again. However, according to the Yellowstone National Park website, grizzly numbers in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem have grown from 136 in 1975 to about 700 today.

One issue garnering a lot of attention online is what type of hunting policies will be implemented. According to the National Park Service website, all hunting laws would be determined by state agencies. However, hunting Grizzly Bears will always remain illegal within Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee has been monitoring grizzly population and are currently working to finalize data concerning whitebark pine and Yellowstone grizzly bears to show that the pine nut can be a valuable food source, according to their website. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee consists of local, federal and tribal agencies.

Grizzlies  have not yet been officially removed from the Endangered Species List. Currently, state fish and wildlife agencies, as well as Park Service departments in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho are taking comments on conservation proposals.

A final decision about the delisting will likely not come until late 2016, after a review of all three states’ management plans according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website.

– Edited By: Annie Wassan



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