US officials to lift Yellowstone grizzly bear protections

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - U.S. government officials say grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park region are no longer threatened, and that they will lift protections that have been in place for more than 40 years.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Thursday that the recovery of Yellowstone's grizzlies is one of the nation's great conservation success stories.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will turn over grizzly bear management to Montana, Idaho and Wyoming by late July. The states plan to allow limited bear hunts outside park boundaries.

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter welcomed the delisting and said the state is ready to start managing the bears.

Otter says that Idaho has been on the forefront of Yellowstone grizzly bear recovery for many years and that the population has been recovered for more than decade.

He added that officials in the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and Office of Species Conservation will review the final delisting before making any decisions about specifics.

State officials say it's too early to discuss a possible grizzly bear hunting season in Idaho.

RELATED: Scientists see continued expansion of grizzly bear habitat

The ruling does not affect threatened grizzlies living in other areas of northwestern Montana and northern Idaho.

Grizzlies have been listed as a threatened species since 1975 when just 136 bears roamed in and around Yellowstone.

There are now more than 700 grizzlies in the Yellowstone region.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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