Grizzly numbers hold steady around Yellowstone
Grizzly numbers hold steady around Yellowstone In this Sept. 25, 2013 file photo, a grizzly bear cub forages for food a few miles from the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park in Gardiner, Mont. (Alan Rogers /The Casper Star-Tribune via AP, File/NPS/Diane Renkin)
Grizzly numbers hold steady around Yellowstone
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Grizzly bear numbers in and around Yellowstone National Park are holding relatively steady, according to figures released Thursday, as state wildlife officials begin discussions on whether to hold the first public hunts for the animals in decades.

There are an estimated 718 bears in the Yellowstone region that includes portions of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, according to the leader of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team.

That's up slightly from last year's tally of 695 bruins, but is not considered a significant increase because of uncertainties around the estimates, said study team leader Frank van Manen with the U.S. Geological Survey.

"The population has been at a pretty stable level since the early 2000s," van Manen said. "If that number had been lower by 15 or 20 bears, I would have said the same thing."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in July removed protections for Yellowstone grizzlies that had been in place since 1975, turning over management of the animals to the three states.

Hunting is part of the states' grizzly management strategy. But details have yet to be worked out and state officials have consistently said any hunts would be limited to a small number of bears so as not to endanger the overall population.

"None of the states at this point in time are actively planning for hunts, but they are beginning dialogues with various members of the public about what that would look like" said Gregg Losinksi with Idaho Fish and Game.

Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks spokesman Greg Lemon said Montana officials are focused on building public trust on grizzly management. There are no active discussions about future hunts in the state, Lemon said.

Even without hunts bears have been dying at a steady rate. More than 50 were killed in each of the past three years due to conflicts with hunters, highway accidents and management removals of bears that preyed on livestock.

"More than 150 bears dying in the last three years because of run-ins with hunters and cars and cows is just too many," said Beth Kampschror with the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, a conservation group. "We're asking the states and agencies to do more to keep people safe and bears alive."

Other wildlife advocates and American Indian tribes have sued to restore federal protections.

The tribes say killing grizzlies violates the spiritual beliefs of their members. Wildlife advocates argue that hunting could reverse the species' hard-fought recovery from near extermination in the last century.

The National Rifle Association and Safari Club International, a hunting group, have asked the judge overseeing most of the lawsuits for permission to intervene in the cases. They want to make sure their members have a chance to hunt grizzlies.

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What challenges do the grizzlies face?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • mollyn-cel
    12/10/2017 - 09:34 p.m.

    Hunting is one of the major endangerment issues for grizzly bears, but there have been restrictions on how many can be killed. For the most part, these bears are highly protected and have had a steady number of grizzlies since the early 2000s.

  • rachelb-cel
    12/20/2017 - 12:00 p.m.

    This article is successful because it is informative, yet to the point. It thoroughly explains the topic and the issue. It makes it clear what is classified as "steady" and explains that the range for what's considered stable is wider than one might think. It also gives a clear image of what might cause a decrease in population and compares this year with the records of last year.

  • Kristae-bru1
    1/08/2018 - 09:00 a.m.

    The challenges the grizzlies face are awful conditions. People hunt, and sadly they hunt grizzlies. Grizzlies have yo face the fact that there family is getting killed, and the little cubs are going to have to mature fast to be able to live on there own. Also, the grizzlies food is being killed. Grizzlies have to go hunt for more food, and hope they don't get killed along the way. Its a struggle for the grizzlies.

  • CJA-pla1
    1/29/2018 - 02:01 p.m.

    This article is about how Yellowstone National Park is trying to invent an easy solution to how to keep the population of the bears at a constant and manageable level while still giving hunters the ability to hunt, when and if able to do so. Another aspect of this article is about how many different organizations feel about the ability to open bear hunting on the national grounds especially with the statistics given of bear casualties. This connects in terms of civic engagement because with the opinions of environmentalists, national park officials, and members of the hunting community, it ultimately affects the economy of the park with the visitors using the grounds for hunting as well as the well being of the bears and the purpose they serve for the eco cycle and the stability of the environment around it. This can also cause many different uproars on the national park and where it stands on this act, which can then lead to a loss of visitors or massive gain.

  • VanceS-dec
    1/31/2018 - 10:22 a.m.

    Hunting is a major endangerment issue for grizzly bears. Reading this article I found that there are some people who fight for no hunting on this animal, in Yellowstone, and some people who want to hunt for this animal. My opinion on this is that I think the grizzly bears in Yellowstone should be protected. People have killed off species of animals in areas before and I think there should be stuff to be done to protect these animals in this area. Overall great article and very interesting.

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