When Lewis and Clark encountered the grizzly bear, they described it as a “most tremendous looking animal” but also a terrifying one. To this day, Americans marvel at the bear’s majesty — but preferably from a safe distance.
Tragically, the United States’ rapid western expansion caused a significant decline in the bear’s population, both due to hunting and fear of the bear’s appetite. Since 1975, the species has been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. At that time, there were only about 136 grizzlies left in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem.
Fortunately, things have dramatically improved since then. In 2016, the Obama administration proposeddelisting the Yellowstone population, which now numbers 700. The grizzly would become only the 39th U.S. species delisted under the ESA due to recovery (out of more than 1,500 that have been listed). Collin O’Mara, president of the National Wildlife Federation, describes this accomplishment as “a true American conservation success story.” Many environmentalists agree.
But the view is not unanimous. And the story took a dramatic turn when a federal court struck down the delisting on behalf of dissenting environmental groups. Many will cheer the decision because it stops a planned hunt, which the state wildlife agencies in Wyoming and Idaho adopted as one of several management tools for the growing population.
Read the entire piece in InsideSources.