By TIM STOVER/Montana State News

Grizzly bears are soon to be delisted from the Endangered Species List for the first time since 2007, according to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

“The Yellowstone grizzly bear population has rebounded from as few as 136 bears in 1975 to an estimated 700 or more today,” according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A species is considered “endangered if it is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range” and “it is considered threatened,” According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

As of now, the Grizzly bears are listed as a “threatened species.” The new proposition by U.S Fish and Wildlife Service will remove protection from the bears entirely.

Since the bear population has seemingly “maxed” population possibilities in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, delisting aims to move the management of the species to the states.

According to Montana FWP, the plan is to “Manage grizzly numbers at the levels measured from 2002 to 2014, when all scientific data indicated the average population was 674 within a nearly 20,000-sq-mile ‘Demographic the Monitoring Area’ (DMA). That estimate confirmed the population had reached beyond recovery and was near maximum capacity for the available habitat.”

FWP plans to “Use grizzly bear management techniques – including limited and regulated hunting – to resolve grizzly bear-related conflicts.”

According to the Sierra Club, which opposes the delisting, “The growth rate of the grizzly population has been flat since the early 2000s, apparently due at least in part to a decline in the survival of cubs and yearlings; more older bears and fewer cubs and young bears is not a good trend for maintaining a healthy population.”

The Sierra Club and Montana FWP are presenting similar information with entirely different outcomes. The Sierra Club wants to keep the listing, while Montana FWP and the U.S. FWS advocate for delisting.

The Sierra Club said, “Human-caused mortality of grizzly bears is significantly reduced, with a goal of reaching zero, and there is no sport hunting of grizzly bears.”

They do not want hunting to take place at all. Whereas Montana FWP has specific mandates regarding hunting: “Suspending all discretionary mortality inside the Demographic Monitoring Area (DMA), except if required for human safety, if the model-averaged Chao2 population estimate falls below 600; Suspending grizzly bear hunting inside the DMA if total mortality limits for any sex/age class are met at any time during the year.”

– edited by Michelle Burger

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