Grizzly bear a cubs in Yellowstone National Park. PC: NPS
NewsAuthor: S. Shaw
The federal government has removed the grizzly bears of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem from the endangered species list. The move comes after more than 40 years of protection.
"This achievement stands as one of America’s great conservation successes; the culmination of decades of hard work and dedication on the part of the state, tribal, federal and private partners,” said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service will turn over management of grizzly bears to Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. All three states plan to allow limited hunting of grizzlies outside of Yellowstone National Park boundaries. Grizzlies within park boundaries, while not considered endangered are still protected from hunting.
Lifting protections does not affect threatened grizzlies living in other areas of northwestern Montana and northern Idaho.
(Video is of Grizzly in Katmai National Park in Alaska)
The Republican governors of Idaho and Wyoming praised the move, calling it long overdue. Meanwhile environmental groups criticized the decision.
“This premature decision to remove endangered species protections could set grizzly recovery back by decades,” said Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune. “Grizzly bears will be killed through trophy hunts on the doorstep of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks instead of inspiring millions who come to the region just for a chance to see a live grizzly bear in the wild.”
Grizzlies have been protected since 1975 when a mere 136 bears roamed in and around Yellowstone.
Today more than 700 grizzlies reside in and around Yellowstone.