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Spotlight on Grizzlies for National Park Week


Big Sky Connection

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Eric Tegethoff

April 23, 2018

HELENA, Montana - This week is National Park Week, and one of the greatest attractions to parks is the wildlife. There's one animal, in particular, many park-goers would love to have the chance to see: the grizzly bear. But since they were taken off the Endangered Species list last year and Wyoming proposed allowing grizzly hunts, conservation groups are concerned the mammals are facing a grave threat. 

While there are many reasons groups want the bears protected from hunts, Stephanie Adams, Yellowstone program manager with the National Parks Conservation Association, says a bear shot in Wyoming could be a bear visitors to Yellowstone National Park in Montana never get to experience.

"It would be really short-sighted, especially of Wyoming, to allow someone to shoot a bear that could potentially be one that is seen by hundreds of thousands of people in the wild," she says. 

Wyoming's proposal would allow hunters to kill 24 grizzlies this fall. There are about 700 of the bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the species reproduces slowly, causing concern among wildlife groups that hunts could send grizzlies to the brink of extinction again. 

Idaho also is considering allowing grizzly hunts. Montana decided against this proposal earlier this year.

Adams says U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's decision to delist the species came with the understanding that the three states these grizzlies call home would work collectively to protect them.

"Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho all agreed to work together to manage this population," she adds. "However, Wyoming's really aggressive plan to harvest 24 bears this fall could impact the ability of the two other states to manage bears in the future."

The National Parks Conservation Association and other groups have sued over the federal government's delisting decision. Adams says people, including Montanans, can submit comments at to Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead and the state's Game and Fish Commission on the hunting proposal through April 30.


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