December 30, 2015 by By Mead Gruver
The number of grizzly bear deaths or removals in the Yellowstone region climbed to an all-time high in 2015, but biologists say they're not worried about the animal's long-term survival in the area.
The known or suspected deaths of 55 bears shouldn't interfere with plans to remove the region's grizzlies from protection under the Endangered Species Act, Frank van Manen, leader of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, said Wednesday.
"This year should be considered within the context of what we've seen in terms of the long-term trend," van Manen said.
The team of state and federal scientists and biologists estimates more than 700 grizzlies live in the Yellowstone region spanning parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. That's up from about 600 in 2010 and around 200 in the early 1980s.
Grizzlies first were listed as a threatened species in 1975. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has set a management goal of 674 bears as it moves toward delisting.