WASHINGTON, DC, June 22, 2017 – Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it will remove the Yellowstone-region grizzly bear population from the federal endangered and threatened species list. The decision will allow bear hunting even though the region’s grizzly population has suffered high levels of human-caused mortality in recent years.
The grizzly bear population in the lower 48 states has been reduced to 1 to 2 percent of its historic numbers, and the grizzlies have only 1 percent of their historic range as human development encroaches on their habitat. Recently, the grizzly population has been faced with the loss of two of its most important food sources in the Yellowstone region — whitebark pine seeds and cutthroat trout — due to changing environmental conditions driven in part by climate change.
Yellowstone National Park and surrounding public lands represent one of their last remaining strongholds.
“The grizzly is an iconic symbol of wildness, and the Yellowstone area is one of the last places in the lower 48 states where we can still see a grizzly in the wild,” said Tim Preso, Earthjustice’s managing attorney for our Northern Rockies regional office who has been working for more than a decade to protect the grizzly bear. “The government’s campaign to remove protections provided by the Endangered Species Act overlooked important conservation issues and denied public comment on key points. We will closely examine this decision, and are prepared to defend the grizzly if necessary.”
The Service has sought to remove the Yellowstone-region grizzly bear from the list of species protected under the Endangered Species Act since 2007. Earthjustice challenged an earlier grizzly delisting decision in court and won in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2011.