End of Protection for Yellowstone Grizzlies?

Wildlife officials consider delisting endangered bears.

Outdoor Life Online Editor

Wildlife officials say they plan to propose ending protection offered for grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park under the Endangered Species Act. For thirty years the bears have been listed as threatened in the region.

With the bear population on the rise, delisting is being considered. Sufficient protections are provided for the bears and their habitat, says Chris Servheen, grizzly recovery coordinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The organization could make the proposal as early as next month, says Servheen.

Some proponents say that federal officials are too eager to end protection. Their concern is that the bears' habitat continues to be harmed by oil and gas development and the expansion of housing in rural areas.

Striking the grizzlies from the endangered list would not automatically put the bears at risk of being hunted. Rather, states would be responsible for protecting the bear population under their existing federally approved bear management policies.

For some who think the Yellowstone region's bear population has grown too large, their removal from federal protection could not come soon enough.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will make the final decision.