Yellowstone Grizzlies To Stay As Threatened

Yellowstone National Park, Bear Hunting Magazine

Grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park will keep their threatened status for at least the next two to three years, as wildlife officials stated they plan to bolster their case that the species has recovered.

Federal and state officials insist there are enough bears in the three-state Yellowstone region to guard against a reversal of the decades-long effort to bring them back from near-extermination.

That was put in doubt last fall, when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals shot down an attempt by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove protections for the animals. That would have returned grizzlies to state control in portions of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. The court ruled that Yellowstone grizzlies face a continued threat from the loss of whitebark pine trees, a key food source historically for some bears. The trees have suffered from insect infestations and disease blamed at least in part on a warming climate.

But government biologists say bears that once depended on the trees are switching to other foods, including truffles. To prove that point, Fish and Wildlife Service grizzly recovery coordinator Chris Servheen said researchers plan to spend the next 20 months re-analyzing prior studies on whitebark pine and the role it plays in the grizzly population.

As the bear population has grown, so have conflicts with humans which has led to increasing numbers of bears killed every year by hunters and wildlife managers. Four people were killed by grizzlies over the past two years in Yellowstone National Park and nearby areas of Wyoming and Montana.

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