Trump Administration Removes Protection Of Yellowstone Grizzly Bears From Endangered Species List

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An official Press Release was released today announcing that the Trump Administration plans to strip all Endangered Species Act protections from Yellowstone’s prize grizzly bears; opening the doors for trophy hunting in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.

The release cited that due to the success of conservation efforts and collaboration among a variety of stakeholders, the Yellowstone population of the grizzly bear had recovered to the point where federal protections are no longer needed, and the overall management can be returned to the states and tribes.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke went so far as to proudly refer to this “achievement” as one of “America’s great conservation successes.”

Reportedly, it estimated that the population has rebounded from as few as 136 bears in 1975 to an estimated 700 today and now meets all the criteria for delisting according to the administration.

However, according to a Center for Biological Diversity Press Release, while the grizzly bear numbers in the Greater Yellowstone area have improved since the animals were first protected in 1975, the most recent scientific data demonstrates a decline in grizzly bears over the past two years; largely from a spike in managed kills due to livestock conflict, as well as car crashes and deliberate poaching.

“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,” said Andrea Santarsiere, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “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.”

As per the Center, overall grizzly bears still occupy less than 4 percent of their historic U.S. range. Historically grizzly bears ranged from Alaska to Mexico, with an estimated 50,000 bears occupying the western half of the contiguous United States. With European settlement of the American West, they were shot, poisoned and trapped to near extinction. Today just 700 live in the Yellowstone area.

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“It’s incredibly disturbing to see the Trump administration end protections for these beloved Yellowstone bears even as their numbers are falling,” continued Santarsiere. “The ongoing threats the bears face will now be compounded by trophy hunting and lethal removal by trigger-happy state agencies.”

Today’s announcement to remove federal protection comes at a time when key grizzly bear food sources in the heart of the Yellowstone ecosystem have been collapsing, and grizzly mortality rates have been increasing.

The dramatic decline of whitebark pine and Yellowstone cutthroat trout has prompted bears to eat more meat, such as big-game gut piles and livestock. That has increased conflicts with humans and grizzly bear mortality. Drought and climate change are likely to worsen these problems.

Yellowstone’s bears have long been isolated from other bear populations, forcing the government to truck in other bears to avoid inbreeding. This fact highlights the need to recover grizzly bear populations in more places.

“This deeply misguided decision just isn’t supported by the science, so the Trump administration may be leaving itself vulnerable to a strong legal challenge,” Santarsiere said. “The evidence clearly shows we need to protect Yellowstone grizzlies, not turn them into targets for trophy hunters.”

According to the government’s Press Release , the final rule and supporting documents will be published in the coming days in the Federal Register and the rule will take effect 30 days after publication.

People are encouraged to visit Center for Biological Diversity to Agree that “We won’t let Trump destroy out wildlife.”

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