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

  • 24tweber
    12/12/2017 - 09:42 a.m.

    There are many challenges grizzly bears face. They have lost 150, in the last 3 years. They are due to conflicts with hunters. Also, highway accidents have a very big impact on the grizzly bears.

  • 24kfarnes
    12/12/2017 - 09:46 a.m.

    The Grizzlies are facing many challenges at this point. Right now the Grizzlies are dying due to conflicts with hunters and highway accidents. We need to keep our bears safe and make sure we aren't getting hurt.

  • 24dduroy
    12/12/2017 - 09:47 a.m.

    They force possible extinction from us not being careful enough around them. We hit them if they go into the roads or, if we hunt we might accidentally hit them.

  • 24kfarnes
    12/12/2017 - 09:48 a.m.

    Right now bears are facing many challenges. They have been dying from conflicts with hunters, and also highway accidents. We need to keep protect our bears, but also keep us safe.

  • 24iaper
    12/19/2017 - 09:43 a.m.


  • 24iaper
    12/19/2017 - 09:44 a.m.

    I Agree, they made good points.

  • 24abrazeau
    12/19/2017 - 09:44 a.m.

    i agree with Katie because they do face a lot of challenges and they are hunted around the earth and they do face cars humans other types of challenges

  • 24abrazeau
    12/19/2017 - 09:45 a.m.

    i agree with Katie because they do face challenges they face humans they face cars and they most important other wild animals around the world.

  • bstric-wim5
    12/19/2017 - 01:01 p.m.

    This is all going on because, of hunters it is their fought that the Grizzlies Bears are getting less ecostemed.

  • ldots-wim5
    12/19/2017 - 01:07 p.m.

    I am very happy to see that the Bear populations are holding steady. I know that not all that long ago the grizzlies in Yellowstone were being relocated, and I know how much this can effect the food chain and population of other animals.

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