BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - The Latest on a proposal by the federal government to lift threatened-species protections for Yellowstone-area grizzlies (all times local):
State officials are welcoming a proposal from the Obama administration to remove grizzly bears from the threatened species list in the three-state Yellowstone region.
The administration declared Thursday that the large predators have recovered from near-extinction across portions of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.
The announcement sets the stage for states to assume jurisdiction over the animals. Republican Wyoming Gov. Matt says that would be “good for the species, for Wyoming and for the West.”
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, says the bear’s rebound from widespread extermination reflects the hard work of state wildlife officials and others involved in the recovery effort.
Idaho officials also praised the administration’s move.
A tentative agreement between the states would allow trophy hunting of grizzlies. Harvest levels would depend on the size of the population.
Wildlife advocates and environmentalists say a proposal to lift protections for Yellowstone-area grizzly bears is premature.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Thursday that the large predators have recovered from near-extinction across portions of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.
The announcement covers an estimated 700 to 1,000 bears in and around Yellowstone National Park.
Sylvia Fallon with the Natural Resources Defense Council says lifting protection would halt the species’ recovery and prevent the animals from spreading into new areas.
Other groups also voiced concerns, saying the grizzly population faces emerging threats from the loss of key food sources and the high number of bears killed over conflicts with humans.
Removing protections would allow the states to hold the first trophy grizzly hunts since the 1970s. A decision is due within a year.
The federal government is proposing to lift threatened-species protections for Yellowstone-area grizzlies.
The move could open the door to future hunts for the fearsome bears across parts of three states.
The Associated Press obtained details of the proposal in advance of a planned Thursday announcement.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe says the proposal caps a four-decade recovery effort. It follows the lifting of protections for other high-profile species, including the gray wolf and brown pelican.
Since 1975, the number of grizzlies in the three-state Yellowstone region increased from 136 to an estimated 700 to 1,000 animals.
Hunting within Yellowstone National Park would still be prohibited, but the proposal could allow animals to be taken in surrounding parts of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. A final decision is due within a year.
Federal wildlife officials say they have reached a major milestone in the recovery effort for Yellowstone-area grizzly bears.
A Thursday afternoon announcement was planned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Further details were not provided.
An estimated 700-1000 grizzlies live in the Yellowstone region of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.
The fearsome predators once roamed much of North America. Trapping and hunting widely exterminated them across most of the Lower 48 states by the early 1900, and grizzlies were given federal protections as a threatened species in 1975.
State officials have been pressuring the federal government to lift protections. They want to allow trophy hunting of the animals.
Opponents say lifting protections could prove disastrous for a population that’s seen its food supplies diminish due to factors including climate change.
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