Friday, March 04, 2016

Fish and Wildlife Service wants to lift endangered-species protection for Yellowstone-area grizzlies

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday proposed removing Endangered Species Act protections from grizzly bears in the area in and around Yellowstone National Park (National Park Service map), saying the bruins' numbers "have rebounded sufficiently in recent decades," Ruffin Prevost reports for Reuters. Grizzly-bear populations in the region are estimated at 700 or more, compared to "as few as 136 bears in 1975 when they were formally listed as a threatened species throughout the Lower 48 states. ... Its current estimated population well exceeds the government's minimum recovery goal of 500 animals in the region."

"Hunters and ranchers, who make up a powerful political constituency in Western states, have strongly advocated de-listing grizzlies, arguing that their increasing numbers pose a threat to humans, livestock and big-game animals such as elk," Prevost writes. "Environmentalists have raised concerns that while grizzlies have made a comeback, their recovery could falter if federal safeguards are lifted, a move that would open the animals to public hunting outside the national park boundaries. Native American tribes, which revere the grizzly, also have voiced skepticism about removing its threatened status." (Read more)

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