January 11, 2006
Advice from an Old Grizzly to a Young Grizzly: Stay in the Park
Planet Ark reports that, if the states assume management authority over Yellowstone grizzlies crossing the park's border, they plan to allow hunting of "nuisance" bears:
Millions of tourists visit Yellowstone annually hoping to see the outsize, hump-shouldered bears that were hunted and trapped to near extinction before being classified in 1975 as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.
In the past three decades, the number of grizzlies in Yellowstone and surrounding areas - eastern Idaho, southern Montana and northwest Wyoming - has risen to more than 600 from 136, prompting the government to propose removing that population from the list of protected wildlife.
Public hearings on the proposal began on Monday in Montana and will conclude on Thursday in Idaho. If the measure is approved, which could happen by the end of the year, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming will oversee management of grizzlies that have ventured outside the park.
Each state has crafted a plan to allow hunting of some of those grizzlies under certain conditions, a practice banned for more than 30 years. Each state would have the authority to kill bears considered chronic nuisances to humans or livestock.
Grizzlies, like gray wolves, have been at the center of controversy in Western states ever since they came under federal protection.
The plan to lift the grizzlies' federal protection is opposed by some powerful environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club, which say it is premature to remove the bears' safety net because their long-term success is still not assured.
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