The Biden administration is taking steps to lift federal protections for grizzly bears in the northern Rocky Mountains, potentially leading to hunting in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. This bold move has sparked debate and controversy, with both sides of the argument making their voices heard. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the research behind this decision and discuss the potential implications for grizzly bear populations.
Grizzly bears were once found in abundance across North America, but their numbers had dwindled to fewer than 800 by 1975 due to overhunting and trapping. In response, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1993. Since then, their numbers have recovered to over 1,900 in the lower 48 states and Alaska.
In 2017, the wildlife service removed protections for grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystems, prompting conservation groups, tribes, and individual citizens to sue. A year later, a judge restored those protections in Wyoming and Idaho, putting the animals back on the endangered species list.
Now, the Biden administration is taking a step toward lifting federal protections for grizzly bears in the northern Rocky Mountains, which could open the door to hunting in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho in the future. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said on Friday that the governors of Montana and Wyoming provided “substantial information” that grizzly populations in the regions around Yellowstone and Glacier national parks had improved and threats had been reduced.
The move has been met with criticism from environmental nonprofits, who fear that removing the protections for the grizzly bear will allow states “to greenlight trophy hunting” of the animals. The Center for Biological Diversity, a nonprofit group that works to protect species from extinction, said that the federal government should not confuse the growth of two bear populations with recovery.
Meanwhile, Idaho Governor Brad Little has filed notice that he intends to sue the Biden administration over the delay to remove grizzly bears from the endangered species list.
The debate over whether or not to lift federal protections for grizzly bears in the northern Rocky Mountains is sure to continue in the coming months. It is a complex issue with many stakeholders, and the outcome of this debate will have far-reaching implications for grizzly bear populations in the region.