Grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park and surrounding areas will be removed from the list of endangered species this summer, the US Secretary of the Interior said on Thursday, a move immediately denounced by conservation groups.
A proposal was issued in March 2016 by the of Obama administration on the basis of a determination by the USFWS that the population of this iconic brown bear, Was sufficiently reconstituted since the 1970s.
In 1975, there were only 136 grizzly bears left. Today, they are estimated to number 700 in Yellowstone Park (Wyoming) and in neighboring states of Montana and Idaho, the Interior Ministry said.
Considerably more than the 500 target set by the USFWS.
“This accomplishment marks one of the great conservation successes in America, the culmination of decades of major efforts and commitments by states, tribes, the federal government and private partners,” said Ryan Zinke, Of Montana (north-west).
Hunters and cattle producers in the western United States, representing powerful regional pressure groups, have been strong advocates for the removal of federal protections for grizzly bears.
They argued that their multiplication posed a threat to humans, herds and other wildlife prized for hunting, such as elk.
Environmental organizations have warned of the risk of jeopardizing efforts to rebuild the Yellowstone grizzly bear population.
According to them, these animals remain vulnerable because of the loss of their habitat and one of their main sources of food, the white bark pine cones, due to climate change that favors the proliferation of destroying insects These trees.
“The fight for the grizzly bear is launched. We will oppose any attempt to remove these bears from the list of protected species, “tweeted the NGO Western Environmental Law Center.
The WildEarth Guardians organization felt that this withdrawal of endangered species would encourage trophy hunters to track down grizzly bears when they are out of Yellowstone National Park.
The decision will be formalized in the coming days and will enter into force 30 days later, said the Department of the Interior.
This measure will not affect four smaller populations of grizzly bears protected by federal law in other parts of Idaho, Montana and also in Washington State.