Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Grizzly Bears at Risk of Being Hunted for the First Time in Decades

Animals
Grizzly Bears at Risk of Being Hunted for the First Time in Decades

Once upon a time in America, back in the early 1800s, more than 50,000 grizzly bears resided between the Pacific Ocean and the Great Plains. By 1975, there were only 136 grizzly bears left in Yellowstone National Park. Because of this dwindling number, they were listed as a threatened species.

Fast forward 40 years and there’s good news and bad news for grizzly bears in Yellowstone. The good news? Thanks to their protected status, there are now about 700 or more grizzly bears and they have doubled their roaming range.

For the first time in decades, grizzly bears that wander outside Yellowstone National Park—where they will remain protected—could be legally hunted again. Photo credit: Terry Tollefsbol / U.S. FWS

“The recovery of the Yellowstone grizzly bear represents a historic success for partnership-driven wildlife conservation under the Endangered Species Act,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Dan Ashe said last week.

The bad news? Because of this historic success, the FWS announced it wants to remove grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the federal lists of endangered and threatened wildlife. According to the FWS, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is reaching its capacity for the bears.

This means that, for the first time in decades, grizzly bears that wander outside Yellowstone National Park—where they will remain protected—could be legally hunted if they are delisted.

The management of those roaming bears would be taken over by the governments of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and local tribes, according to a FWS FAQ. It would be up to these states and tribes to determine if and when hunting begins.

As many as 100 grizzly bears may be killed before hunting of them is once again prohibited.

When the FWS tried to delist grizzly bears in 2007, environmental groups took it to court.

In 2009, a federal judge in Montana ruled that Yellowstone grizzly bears should continue to be protected because not only were the safeguards promised by the USFWS unenforceable, but due to climate change, bears were losing a major part of their diet: the seeds from whitebark pine trees that were dying off.

The ruling was upheld two years later by a federal appeals court, which stated that the FWS “cannot take a full-speed ahead, damn-the-torpedoes approach to delisting—especially given the Endangered Species Act’s ‘policy of institutionalized caution.’”

The environmental law firm Earthjustice, which helped lead those efforts to keep the Yellowstone grizzly bear protections in place, is currently reviewing the latest delisting proposal from the FWS.

“Earthjustice will closely examine the service’s action to ensure that the Yellowstone region’s irreplaceable grizzly bear population is adequately protected,” attorney Tim Preso said in a statement.

The FWS insists it will remain committed to the conservation of Yellowstone grizzly bears if they are delisted.

“We will continue to be part of a strong monitoring program, implementation of the conservation strategy and partnership with our state and federal partners,” Ashe stated. “We are look forward to hearing from the public about the proposal and consulting with Native American tribes.”

The FWS will make its decision later this year. In the meantime, it is accepting comments from the public that include reasons why Yellowstone grizzly bears should or should not be protected.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

SeaWorld’s Famous Whale and ‘Blackfish’ Star Is Dying

Victory: Alaska’s Polar Bears Win Their Day in Court

Plastic bails, left, and aluminum bails, right, are photographed at the Green Waste material recovery facility on Thursday, March 28, 2019, in San Jose, California. Aric Crabb / Digital First Media / Bay Area News via Getty Images

By Courtney Lindwall

Coined in the 1970s, the classic Earth Day mantra "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" has encouraged consumers to take stock of the materials they buy, use, and often quickly pitch — all in the name of curbing pollution and saving the earth's resources. Most of us listened, or lord knows we tried. We've carried totes and refused straws and dutifully rinsed yogurt cartons before placing them in the appropriately marked bins. And yet, nearly half a century later, the United States still produces more than 35 million tons of plastic annually, and sends more and more of it into our oceans, lakes, soils, and bodies.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Rise and Resist activist group marched together to demand climate and racial justice. Steve Sanchez / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Alexandria Villaseñor

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.

My journey to becoming an activist began in late 2018. During a trip to California to visit family, the Camp Fire broke out. At the time, it was the most devastating and destructive wildfire in California history. Thousands of acres and structures burned, and many lives were lost. Since then, California's wildfires have accelerated: This past year, we saw the first-ever "gigafire," and by the end of 2020, more than four million acres had burned.

Read More Show Less
Trending
U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced a pair of climate-related secretarial orders on Friday, April 16. U.S. Department of the Interior

By Jessica Corbett

As the Biden administration reviews the U.S. government's federal fossil fuels program and faces pressure to block any new dirty energy development, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland won praise from environmentalists on Friday for issuing a pair of climate-related secretarial orders.

Read More Show Less
David Attenborough narrates "The Year Earth Changed," premiering globally April 16 on Apple TV+. Apple

Next week marks the second Earth Day of the coronavirus pandemic. While a year of lockdowns and travel restrictions has limited our ability to explore the natural world and gather with others for its defense, it is still possible to experience the wonder and inspiration from the safety of your home.

Read More Show Less

By Michael Svoboda

For April's bookshelf we take a cue from Earth Day and step back to look at the bigger picture. It wasn't climate change that motivated people to attend the teach-ins and protests that marked that first observance in 1970; it was pollution, the destruction of wild lands and habitats, and the consequent deaths of species.

Read More Show Less