The Department of Interior recently announced the recovery of grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park. Because of the successful conservation efforts, grizzlies are being delisted from the Endangered Species Act where they’ve sat for the last 40 years.
U.S. Secretary of the Department of the Interior Ryan Zinke made the announcement June 22, stating the grizzly population is estimated at 700 today. In comparison, when grizzlies were labeled endangered in 1975, the population consisted of 136 bears.
“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 Zinke said in a press release and to NPR. “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.”
Related: Lower 48 Grizzlies
What does this mean?
That grizzly bear hunting could come back to Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. The official delisting will be placed into the Federal Registry next week and will take effect 30 days later, The LA Times reports.
This is also the end of a long journey. It has been a conversation since March 2016 when the Obama Administration first proposed removing grizzlies as a threatened species, the Washington Post reports. The past 15 months have given federal officials time to evaluate management plans and population growth. The Post reports officials have also received 650,000 comments during that time from the public (including Native American tribal officials) who oppose hunting grizzlies.
What Are People Saying?
As with any politically charged topic, reactions vary. For those celebrating the victory (in addition to Zinke’s quote above), Laurie Wolf, spokeswoman for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, told the Washington Post:
“We are in no rush to move forward on hunting. Right now, we are really focused still on the conservation of this species.”
Statements that oppose the ruling are much more common online. From organizations to tribal leaders, there’s a large population who disagree with the decision.
Stan Grier, the chief of the Piikani Nation of the Blackfoot Confederacy, told The LA Times:
“This announcement is no doubt being celebrated by trophy hunters like Don Jr. and Eric Trump, and the president’s extractive industry cronies, but for us it is an act of cultural genocide. This is a struggle for the very spirit of the land — a struggle for the soul of all we have ever been, or will ever become.”
Wayne Pacelle, the president of the Human Society of the United States, told TIME:
“This is the greatest gift to trophy hunters. This is the greatest wish that the trophy hunting and ranching lobbies could have received from the Trump Administration.”
What do you think about Yellowstone grizzlies being delisted? Comment below and let us know what you think!
Featured Image: National Park Service — Jim Peaco