Activists Say the Trump Administration Is Making Yellowstone Bears Vulnerable to Hunters

Yellowstone Grizzly No Longer On Endangered Species List

Once off the endangered list, federal protections for the bear will be removed, meaning bears that wander off of national park boundaries will be subject to hunting laws in portions of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. Today, the Greater Yellowstone population has rebounded from a low of under 150 individuals to around 700. During the intervening 15 months, federal officials evaluated states' grizzly management plans and responded to concerns generated by 650,000 comments from the public, including wildlife advocates and Native American tribal officials who are staunchly opposed to hunting grizzly bears.

Grizzlies in every state aside from Alaska have been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1975.

With the help of the Endangered Species Act and conservation efforts, Yellowstone grizzly numbers and range have significantly increased.

The Greater Yellowstone ecosystem (GYE) distinct population segment (DPS) consists of portions of northwestern Wyoming, southwestern Montana and eastern Idaho.

The rule will not affect four other smaller federally protected grizzly populations in parts of Montana, Idaho and Washington state.

Some sportsmen's groups also praised the decision.

And then there's the threat bears that wander out of the park's confines will face.

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A press statement from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says that the "population was determined to be recovered because multiple factors indicate it is healthy and will be sustained into the future".

"We already know the grizzly bear has fully recovered in Wyoming", said Barrasso. Across the continental USA, grizzly bear populations have shrunk from almost 50,000 bears in the 1800s to less than 2,000, total, today. They've been under federal protection since...except for 2007 to 2009 when they were briefly delisted before a federal judge ruled more study was needed on the bears' food supplies...

"The recovery of the iconic Grizzly Bear is a remarkable success story - one which we should celebrate while remaining focused on protecting the very habitat that made recovery possible", said Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.

The three states that will take over jurisdiction of Yellowstone-area bears once federal protections are lifted this summer have submitted management plans that allow for limited hunting. Some experts say that the grizzlies' recovery is still a work in progress, and without federal oversight, the progress that the bears have enjoyed in recent years could quickly be reversed, according to Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. "The grizzly bear's recovery demonstrates just how capable Wyoming is in effectively recovering threatened and endangered species".

Wyoming's U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, and Representative Liz Cheney released statements regarding the decision by the Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the grizzly bears within Yellowstone.

The department noted that stable population numbers for the bear for more than a decade suggest that the Yellowstone area's ecosystem is at or near its capacity to support the animal.

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