The United States Fish and Wildlife Department (FWD) are delisting grizzly bears after 42 years on the Endangered Species List, the FWD announced Thursday.
The grizzly population has grown to about 700 in 2017, from 136 bears in 1975.
“As a kid who grew up in Montana, I can tell you that this is a long time coming and very good news for many communities and advocates in the Yellowstone region,” Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said in a FWS press release. “This achievement stands as one of America’s great conservation successes; the culmination of decades of hard work and dedication on the part of the state, tribal, federal and private partners. As a Montanan, I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together.”
While Yellowstone’s status as a national park will continue to protect grizzlies within the park’s boundaries, bears outside the park may be hunted with permission from the governments of Idaho, Montana or Wyoming. Hunts will likely not be held this year, however.
“We are in no rush to move forward on hunting,” Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokeswoman Laurie Wolf told the Associated Press. “Right now we are really focused still on the conservation of this species.”
“The decision about whether there’s going to be limited grizzly hunting in Idaho is one for down the road, and that decision would rely on recommendations of Fish and Game’s professional wildlife managers, coordination with our neighboring states, and public discussion,” Idaho’s Department of Fish and Game said in a press release.
Any decision to hunt bears in Wyoming will likely happen next year after the public has time to comment, a Wyoming Game and Fish Department official told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The Center for Biological Diversity slammed the President Donald Trump’s administration for the decision to delist the grizzly.
“It’s tragic that the Trump administration is stripping protections from these magnificent animals just to appease a tiny group of trophy hunters who want to stick grizzly bear heads on their walls,” Andrea Santarsiere, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a press release. “This outrageously irresponsible decision ignores the best available science. Grizzly conservation has made significant strides, but the work to restore these beautiful bears has a long way to go.”
Deputy regional director of FWS’s Mountain Prairie Region Matt Hogan also believes grizzlies are ready for delisting.
“We feel like this species is more than adequately protected in the absence of (Endangered Species Act) protections,” Hogan told the Associated Press.
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