Federal government will lift protections of Yellowstone grizzly - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

Federal government will lift protections of Yellowstone grizzly bears

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The U.S. Department of Interior will lift federal protections for grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem several sources confirmed Thursday. This will transfer the management of the bears to state and tribal authorities.

"It has been a long time coming, but it's a great success," said Matt Hogan, the Deputy Regional Director for the Mountain-Prairie Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, "It's a great win for conservation and grizzly bears. It's a good news story."

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced the decision to remove the Yellowstone grizzlies, calling the growth in population "one of America's great conservation success."

Grizzly populations have rebounded from 136 in 1975 to about 700, meeting the criteria for de-listing.  

“As a kid who grew up in Montana, I can tell you that this is a long time coming and very good news for many communities and advocates in the Yellowstone region," said Secretary Zinke.

Grizzly bear conservation is one of the main topics at the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. Executive Director Caroline Byrd calls the bear's recovery a huge success in conservation and says the organization will continue to closely monitor the bear de-listing process to ensure the long-term viability.

"We know how important Yellowstone grizzly bears are to Americans and beyond. I mean, they are an iconic symbol to the greater Yellowstone," Byrd said.

Byrd says the coalition does not to see the bears hunted, which state wildlife managers indicated is a possibility. 

Several of Montana's leaders responded including Senator Steve Daines who said. "It will be great to see the grizzly bear recovered and off the endangered species list. I was 12-year-old growing up in Bozeman when steps began to restore the grizzly bear population. As an avid backpacker, hiker and fisherman, I know firsthand the importance of conservation to Montana. I look forward to continuing to work with the State of Montana as they take the lead in the management of the grizzly."

From Governor Steve Bullock, "The recovery of the iconic Grizzly Bear is a remarkable success story – one which we should celebrate while remaining focused on protecting the very habitat that made recovery possible,” said Governor Bullock. “Montana embraces the responsibility of managing wildlife and we look forward to continuing the collaboration and responsible stewardship that led to this significant milestone.”

Rep. Greg Gianforte, sworn-in Wednesday, says he would like to see all of Montana's grizzlies de-listed. “I applaud the work that was done to aid in their recovery. With this act, management control of the Grizzly Bear in the Yellowstone Ecosystem returns to Montana, where it belongs. The next step is to de-list the Grizzly Bear across all of Montana.”  

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