Opposition stalls end of protections for Yellowstone grizzly

Opposition stalls end of protections for Yellowstone grizzly

Opposition from dozens of American Indian tribes and wildlife conservation groups is discouraging federal officials from going ahead with their plans to end protections for hundreds of grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) had planned to finalize their decision to lift protections for nearly 700 grizzly bears by the end of 2016, but FWS Assistant Regional Director Michael Thabault recently announced that said it could take the agency at least six more months to finalize its decision.

Federal wildlife officials are now reviewing more than 650,000 comments that have made by the members of the public on the controversial proposal.

More than 100 Yellowstone-area grizzlies were killed in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho during the past couple of years, often by wildlife officers following reports of attacks on livestock and people.

But, federal official say the death rate bears was sustainable as the wild beast’s overall population significantly expanded from 136 bears when special protections were first implemented.

Thabault said in a statement, “The bear population has been increasing over time and those mortalities are within the bounds of what we’ve been considering. We expect the population to go up and down, but basically revolve around this (current) level.”

Federal wildlife officials have held discussions with tribal officials and conservation groups to address their objections. However, the federal agency isn’t bound to make any changes based on consultations with tribal officials and conservation groups.

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