Quantcast

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

Animals

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

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

New pine trees grow from the forest floor along the North Fork of the Flathead River on the western boundary of Glacier National Park on Sept. 16, 2019 near West Glacier, Montana. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

By Alex Kirby

New forests are an apparently promising way to tackle global heating: the trees absorb carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas from human activities. But there's a snag, because permanently lower river flows can be an unintended consequence.

Read More
Household actions lead to changes in collective behavior and are an essential part of social movements. Pixabay / Pexels

By Greg McDermid, Joule A Bergerson, Sheri Madigan

Hidden among all of the troubling environmental headlines from 2019 — and let's face it, there were plenty — was one encouraging sign: the world is waking up to the reality of climate change.

So now what?

Read More
Sponsored
Logging state in the U.S. is seen representing some of the consequences humans will face in the absence of concrete action to stop deforestation, pollution and the climate crisis. Mark Newman / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images

Talk is cheap, says the acting executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, who begged governments around the world to make sure that 2020 is not another year of conferences and empty promises, but instead is the year to take decisive action to stop the mass extinction of wildlife and the destruction of habitat-sustaining ecosystems, as The Guardian reported.

Read More
The people of Kiribati have been under pressure to relocate due to sea level rise. A young woman wades through the salty sea water that flooded her way home on Sept. 29, 2015. Jonas Gratzer / LightRocket via Getty Images

Refugees fleeing the impending effects of the climate crisis cannot be forced to return home, according to a new decision by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, as CNN reported. The new decision could open up a massive wave of legal claims by displaced people around the world.

Read More
The first day of the Strike WEF march on Davos on Jan. 18, 2020 near Davos, Switzerland. The activists want climate justice and think the WEF is for the world's richest and political elite only. Kristian Buus / In Pictures via Getty Images

By Ashutosh Pandey

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is returning to the Swiss ski resort of Davos for the 2020 World Economic Forum with a strong and clear message: put an end to the fossil fuel "madness."

Read More