BY BROOKLYN PINHEIRO
Following 15 months of investigation and much debate, the Yellowstone grizzly bears are being delisted from the endangered species list this July.
The list, which prevented humans from harming bears, will now allow limited hunting of bears in the Yellowstone region, excluding the national park, as long as the population does not fall below 600 bears.
In 1975 grizzly bears received their endangered species protection in all states except Alaska and Hawaii, when only 136 bears lived in the Yellowstone area. Their number for that region now reaches around 700, leading the Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the animal on the grounds that their conservation has been a success.
The decision to remove protection from the bears in the region, which includes Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, has received backlash from wildlife advocates and Native American tribal officials. Around 125 tribes have signed a treaty stating that they oppose the loss of protection for the grizzly bears, which now allows for trophy hunting. They argue that the bears still face a lot of risks including climate change pushing them into new areas where they’ll face more human threats.
“We’re certainly prepared to take a stand to protect the grizzly if necessary,” Tim Preso, an attorney for Earthjustice told The Guardian, “we ought not to take an unjustified gamble with an iconic species of this region.”
Being on the endangered species list protects animals from being killed or their environment from being threatened. State protections can allow these things to happen to a certain degree in order to prioritize the human population.
However wildlife officials who have been protecting the bears for decades have put together a management plan to be followed in order to keep the species safe. The population will continue to be monitored and adaptions to the plan made if necessary.
“We feel like this species is more than adequately protected in the absence off the (Endangered Species Act) protections,” said Matt Hogan, deputy regional director for the Fish and Wildlife Services. “bears are extremely resilient, extremely flexible and adaptable.”