After more than four decades, the Yellowstone grizzly bear is being removed from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) after population benchmarks have been far exceeded, deeming them recovered by federal wildlife biologists.
The lower United States once was home to 50,000 grizzly bears, but over the centuries, their numbers were reduced, leaving Yellowstone and the Lower 48 with only 136 wild grizzlies. In 1975, the federal government placed grizzlies on the ESA. After 42 years of sound management, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem population of grizzly bears has surpassed recovery goals, reaching roughly 700, and proved that the population is stable and growing. Additionally, the Greater Yellowstone grizzly bears, which generally roam Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, have gradually expanded their occupied habitat by more than 50 percent. The U.S. Department of Interior announced their intentions to end the protections on Yellowstone grizzlies and return their oversight to the state level.
The delisting has been touted as one of America’s greatest conservation successes from numerous sportsman groups including Sportsmen’s Alliance, SCI, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
But the delisting will not come easily—anti-hunting and animal rights groups have announced their intentions to fight the decision. Groups such as the Humane Society of the United States, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, and others have begun fundraising to sue to reverse the decision.