The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are making headlines. They are proposing to remove grizzlies from the Endangered Species Act within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). This act is known as delisting. In 1975, grizzly bears were designated, threatened and/or listed with extinction.
Grizzlies have made an astounding recovery. The population has increased from 136 to approximately 700. Scientists however believe that the Yellowstone grizzly population has recovered and has ultimately reached its capacity for native grizzlies. This means that the efforts to help reduce conflicts with people and grizzlies have reached its maximum endeavor.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for administering the Endangered Species Act. In consultation with tribes, agencies, the public and states, they make all decisions related to listing and delisting the status of animals on the Endangered Species Act. The National Park Service helps to review any proposals the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service makes, but they do not make any decisions.
Delisting grizzly bears means that hunting would be legal outside the boundaries of the national parks provided it would fall within the state management plans. If grizzly bears are delisted, hunting will still be prohibited within the boundaries of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. However, surrounding states, such as Wyoming, Idaho and Montana may manage state bear hunts, just as they are permitted to do with other species, such as wolves, deer, elk and pronghorn antelopes. National Parks are requesting that states focus hunts on areas with high levels of human-bear conflicts and further away from park boundaries.
Overall, the management of bears will not change in any National Parks. The National Parks will continue to follow any long-term monitoring programs in place, including Bear Management Plans. The National Parks value the tens of million of dollars that wildlife viewing brings to the area. They are also very proud to be part of helping maintain the grizzly population and making sure that it thrives within the parks’ boundaries.
Always practice bear safety to help reduce the chances of encountering a bear while in the park. This includes checking with a visitor center or backcountry office about recent bear activity before setting out for any hikes.
Travelers should also know what to do if they unexpectedly encounter a bear, which also includes taking precautions and looking for scat and fresh tracks.
West Yellowstone campgrounds offer overnight accommodations outside the park. Yellowstone Holiday also offers a Yellowstone RV park and Hebgen Lake lodging.