Monday 7 March 2016

Yellowstone grizzly bears face end of endangered species protection

US federal government says recovery of national park population to more than 700 is a ‘historic success’ but conservationists say move is premature

Thursday 3 March 2016 22.25 GMT
Last modified on Thursday 3 March 201623.52 GMT

The federal government is proposing to strip endangered species protections from Yellowstone’s famed grizzly bears, with officials claiming a “historic success” in the recovery of the bear population.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) said it planned to delist one of the last remaining grizzly populations from the Endangered Species Act, which has protected them since 1975. In this time, the FWS said, the bear population around Yellowstone National Park has rebounded from 136 bears to more than 700.

This recovery has led to calls from Idaho, Montana and Wyoming – the states that contain and surround Yellowstone – to remove the bears from the act’s protection. The states have argued that selling licences for hunting would generate huge sums of revenue and help ranchers who lose livestock to bears.

The FWS has agreed to the delisting as long as a conservation plan is followed to ensure the grizzlies are not imperilled in the future. Currently, the animals cannot be shot or removed unless there are exceptional circumstances.

 “The recovery of the Yellowstone grizzly bear represents a historic success for partnership-driven wildlife conservation under the Endangered Species Act,” said Dan Ashe, director of the FWS.

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