Even as Yellowstone grizzly bear numbers drop, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it may announce their delisting from the Endangered Species List as early as January 1st.
In a letter to Western wildlife agencies, the agency agreed to allow the number of bears to decline from 714 down to 600 for hunting or livestock conflicts. Below that, they could only be killed if they were a danger to people.
The Center for Biological Diversity attorney Andrea Santarsiere says it’s not time to let state’s take over grizzly management.
“The population has been stable or declining since 2000,” she says. “Just this year, the population declined by 6% and it doesn’t really seem to make sense for us to rush forward with removing federal protections for bears that seem to have a higher mortality rate than what they’ve seen in the past.”
And Santarsiere says she’s worried the public won’t learn the state’s revised plan for protecting the bears in time for the feds’ public comment period that would likely follow the announcement.