The gray-bears population of Yellowstone National Park has recovered enough to be removed from the list of endangered species.
The announcement was made Thursday by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, but the measure was immediately denounced by conservation groups of nature, concerned about the future of this species.
According to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (who, as a congressman for the state of Montana, voted for laws that weaken environmental safeguards on public lands), “this achievement marks a great success of conservation in America, the culmination of decades of great Efforts and commitments of states, tribes, the federal government and private partners. ”
The gray bear, or grizzly bear, as it is known, belongs to a subgroup – Ursus arctos horribilis – of the species of brown bears. These huge bears weighing more than 500 kg were placed under official protection in 1975 when their population had fallen to about 136 animals because of hunting and erosion of their natural habitat. Today, it is estimated that there are 700, “meeting the criteria needed to be removed from the list in extinction,” said the representative of the US government.
But since it is off the list of endangered species, federal protections for the bear will be withdrawn, meaning that animals that roam outside the boundaries of the national park will be subject to hunting laws in the states of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.
Matt Bishop, a lawyer for the Western Environmental Law Center, said they will appeal in court. “Let’s defy the decision. Simply because we do not think it has any scientific basis. ” For environmentalists, these animals remain vulnerable due to the decline of their habitat and destruction of one of their main sources of food, white-pinned pine cones. According to Bishop, removing the protections for the gray bear will be a major setback, and the decision to do so has political and non-scientific reasons.
Western American cattle and hunters are powerful regional lobbies, publicly advocating that bears are a threat to humans, cattle, and other wildlife.
However, the lifting of the protection will come into effect 30 days after its publication in the federal registry, which should happen in the next days. Still, this measure will not affect four other grizzly bears populations protected by federal law in other areas of the states of Idaho, Montana and Washington.