Wyoming Wants to Remove Grizzlies from Endangered Species List, Faces Opposition

by Quentin Blount
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Photo by Getty Images

Now that the grizzly bear population has recovered in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, Wyoming’s governor is calling for them to be removed from the endangered species list. However, not everyone agrees with the idea.

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon is the man behind the push to remove grizzlies from the endangered species list. He credits the state’s restoration and recovery efforts in helping bring the grizzly bear population to where it is today. Back in the 1970s, there were roughly 130 bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Today? There are more than 1,000. Gordon says the state has surpassed its goals.

“This is an extraordinary and monumental success story for species recovery and should be celebrated,” Gordon said. “The GYE grizzly bear is ready to join the ranks of the bald eagle, American alligator, peregrine falcon, and brown pelican as receiving proper recognition as a thriving, recovered, and stable species.”

For all of you Outsiders who don’t know, removing grizzly bears from the endangered species list would also remove their federal protection. That means that management of the species would be left up to state wildlife agencies. And they could potentially open up grizzly bears to hunting.

Animal Rights Activists Want Grizzlies to Remain an Endangered Species

The push to delist grizzly bears has caught the attention of animal rights groups far and wide. Andrea Zaccardi is a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. She does not agree with the Wyoming governor when it comes to this request.

“This outrageous request from Wyoming’s governor is the latest attack on animals like grizzly bears by states that see them as little more than targets for trophy hunters,” Zaccardi said. “There is no science to back the claim that grizzlies no longer need protection. Federal officials need to send a clear message by swiftly rejecting this request.”

As a matter of fact, Zaccardi believes that the state could be over-estimating the bear population. She doesn’t believe the number of grizzly bears in the area is more than 1,000.

“The recent population estimate of more than 1,000 bears is based on a new counting methodology,” she said. “And the public should be aware that the grizzly bear population did not explode overnight.”

There’s no arguing that delisting grizzly bears as an endangered species could open them up to hunting. But Brody Henderson, MeatEater Senior Editor, told Fox News that hunting would obviously be very, very limited if that were the case.

“What good would it do for state wildlife management agencies to allow hunters to kill so many bears that populations were reduced to the point that grizzlies were placed back under ESA protections, and the state loses management authority to the federal government?”

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