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. That's according to figures released Thursday. State wildlife officials have begun 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 parts of Wyoming. It also includes parts of Montana and Idaho. That's according to the leader of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team.

That's up slightly from last year's tally of 695 bruins. But it is not considered a huge increase. This is because there are uncertainties around the estimates. That's according to Frank van Manen. His is the study team leader. He is 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. The protections  had been in place since 1975. They turned 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. State officials have consistently said any hunts would be limited to a small number of bears. This was to avoid endangering 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." That's according to Gregg Losinksi. He is 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. It was also due to 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. She is 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

  • Charlotte-E2
    12/07/2017 - 10:51 a.m.

    I think that it's nice that bear population is holding steady. I also think it's sad that bears were dying out because of hunters, cars, and even cows? I strongly dislike that 150 bears died out.

  • kinniel-orv
    12/07/2017 - 02:50 p.m.

    Im happy that the bear population in the Yellowstone national park is increasing. Most people hate bears, but I'd rather have them now instead of extinct.The effects would be that we would see an increase of prey animals, bears help the ecosystem in many ways, eating rodents, termites, and other harmful creatures, but at least the bears are no longer in danger, with a total population of 900,00 bears in the world right now

  • mollyn-cel
    12/10/2017 - 09:28 p.m.

    Hunting is one of the endangerment risks, but there are limits to how many can be killed. For the most part, the grizzly bears aren't at much of a risk. There numbers have been holding steady since the early 2000s.

  • destinys-orv
    12/11/2017 - 01:22 p.m.

    losing there food and dieing.

  • jeremyj-orv
    12/12/2017 - 08:14 a.m.

    I think that’s great that the bear population is steady, I would have thought they would have been on their way to extension.

  • 24cstroud
    12/12/2017 - 09:35 a.m.

    the challenges for food because there are so many bears in one area that there competing for food

  • 24jperryman
    12/12/2017 - 09:36 a.m.

    I wonder if the population will go up more

  • 24thowes
    12/12/2017 - 09:36 a.m.

    They have to try not to get killed by someone trying to kill the bears. They should try to leave without getting harmed. Also, there is an improvement in fish in Yellowstone which they eat. So if they eat that then they are going to have to search for food in the wild.

  • 24mstier
    12/12/2017 - 09:37 a.m.

    Grizzlies keep on running into hunters and cars who kill them.

  • 24eberthaume
    12/12/2017 - 09:37 a.m.

    Grizzlies need to survive in the wild. They need to find food, water, and shelter. Some of their problems are getting hit on highways and hunting accidents. Depending on where they live, they may also struggle to find a home due to humans taking over their land.

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