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Sunday, September 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Outdoors blog

Grizzly bear delisting put on hold

A Montana grizzly bear feeds on huckleberries. (Jaime Johnson)
A Montana grizzly bear feeds on huckleberries. (Jaime Johnson)

ENDANGERED SPECIES – Federal officials are delaying their decision on whether to lift protections for more than 700 grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park and allow controlled hunting in some areas outside of the park, the Associated Press reports.

Despite expert opinions that the area's bear population has recovered and may be at social tolerance limits, the move comes in the wake of opposition from dozens of American Indian tribes and conservation groups that say hunts could reverse the grizzly’s four-decade recovery.

Officials had planned to finalize the proposal to turn jurisdiction on grizzlies over to state wildlife agencies by the end of 2016.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Assistant Regional Director Michael Thabault said it could take another six months after the agency received more than 650,000 public comments.

More than 100 Yellowstone-area grizzlies have been killed in the past two years, often by wildlife managers following attacks on livestock. Thabault says the death rate is sustainable given the size of the population.

Anti-hunting groups waged the same sort of court challenges when wolves were delisted in Montana and Idaho, stalling state control of the species.  The lawsuits eventually failed and wolf hunting was allowed.  Wolves have continued to prosper in the two states, and the money from sales of licenses helps in management of the species.

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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