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United States government officials announced that protection for grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park has been lifted.
After over 40 years of being covered by the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which aims to protect species and preserve their habitat, the park’s bear population has grown from 136 to around 700. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the agency regulating the ESA, concluded that the bear population has recovered.
Although the FWS appealed for the grizzly bears’ exclusion from the endangered species list in 2007, the court ordered reconsideration because of the decreasing supply of white bark pine, an essential food source for grizzly bears.
Following the lifting of the bears’ endangered species status, states where these bears are widespread, such as Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming / waɪˈoʊ mɪŋ /, have received permission to conduct bear hunts outside the park’s vicinity, granted that the bear population is at least 600.
Nevertheless, several environmental advocates opposed the ruling by arguing that Yellowstone bears are still threatened by humans, climate change, and other factors. As a result, around 125 Native American tribes, which consider the bear a sacred animal, signed a treaty against the ruling.
However, FWS deputy regional director Matt Hogan remains confident that the decision and plans of the three states will prevail against any lawsuit.
According to US interior secretary Ryan Zinke, the Yellowstone grizzly bear’s recovery is one of America’s phenomenal conservation victories. Similarly, the bald eagle is also considered an endangered species success story. Although there were only 400 breeding pairs of the eagle, the species’ population rose to over 7,000 breeding pairs after being covered by the ESA.