Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced Thursday that “the population of grizzly bears in that park had recovered and that, therefore,” federal protections can be removed and general administration over them can be returned to the states and tribes of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. That means that they can decide if they can re-hunt them out of the protected area.
The controversial measure would eliminate the regulations that for 42 years protected the populations of brown bears against hunting within Yellowstone National Park and also in its surroundings.
According to Zinke, this decision means that once in force, the states where the conservation area is located will have the power to maintain the veto or authorize limited hunting of grizzly bears outside the boundaries of the park , not inside. In addition, this power comes with a requirement and is that the authorities of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming must ensure that the total population of bears does not drop below 600 individuals.
The grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis ) is one of the subspecies of the brown bear (Ursus arctos). It is the third largest omnivore in North America after the polar bear and the kodiak bear. It can reach up to 550 kg of weight and measure up to 2.4 meters when it is standing on its hind legs. They differ mainly from the other species of bears by the size of their claws, which is significantly higher and because they have a portion of hair with silver tips on the back, a characteristic that gives the animal its name (grizzly, meaning grizzly).
In North America – and in all the continental states of the United States, except in Alaska – there were once about 50,000 brown bears, but due to hunting and widespread capture, its population collapsed from the 1850s. Today the bears now occupy only 2%.
These bears have been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1975, when there were only about 135 bears left in Yellowstone Park and surrounding areas. Currently it is estimated that there are about 700 in this park. These data have led the authorities of the Fish and Wildlife Service of the United States to conclude that the population has recovered. “This achievement is one of the greatest conservation successes in the United States,” emphasized Secretary Zinke.
It is not the first time that there is talk of removing these Yellowstone bears from the list of endangered species. In 2007, the Fish and Wildlife Service tried, but the federal courts asked him to reconsider the decision after learning his analysis that said that the primary source of food for these animals, the white bark, had been severely decimated. and that still meant a risk to the health of bear populations.
To oppose, 125 tribes signed at that time a manifesto that opposes the sporting hunting of brown bears, whom Native Americans consider a sacred animal.
The authorities of the current administration assure that bears within the boundaries of the national park remain federal responsibility and will not be hunted unless they leave Yellowstone. Environmentalists make fun of this exception, because bears do not know limits and are not trees planted in an area.
Authorities say the new measure will not affect any other major population of grizzly bears in the other 48 states where they reside. However, the defenders of Glacier National Park in Montana, where there are approximately 1,000 of those same bears, fear that it will soon be evaluated to remove this population from the protection list.
“The rule to remove the Yellowstone bear from the endangered list will be published in the federal registry sometime in the near future and will take effect 30 days after that,” the official press release of the Department of the Interior says.
A spokesperson for the park told Univision Planeta via telephone that until now they have not received any official communication and that, therefore, they would refrain from commenting until they know what the indication will be given by the authorities.