Wyoming Governor Pushes For Grizzly Bear Delisting

Yellowstone's brown bears could lose their federally protected status.
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Yellowstone's brown bears could lose their federally protected status.

Wyoming's governor is renewing efforts to remove Yellowstone's grizzly bears from the federal Endangered Species List.

In a letter addressed to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell this week, Governor Matt Mead reiterated his belief that the grizzly bear population has stabilized in recent years, citing recent committee decision and scientific studies. Planet Jackson Hole reports that Mead also cited a September 2013 letter from Jewell, which stated that Interior's decision on the matter would be forthcoming in early 2014.

Grizzly bears, once ubiquitous in mountainous regions of the western United States, were hunted to the brink of extinction in the lower 48 by the early 1920s before being afforded federal protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1975. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisted the grizzlies in 2007, only to reverse the decision in 2009 when a judge ruled that the decline in whitebark pine (a primary bear food source) had not taken into account.

For its part, the Fish and Wildlife Service is deferring any action until the fall when a comprehensive population analysis is completed. If the FWS does propose a formal delisting, the motion will be subject to a lengthy public comment period that could push a final decision well into next year.

Read more: Planet Jackson Hole