Published in March of this year, officials proposed the delisting of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and have since reinstated an extended comment period about the proposal.
Now occupying more than 22,500 square miles of the Yellowstone Ecosystem, the grizzly bear population has rebounded in great numbers. In 1975, estimates pegged the grizzly population to be somewhere around 136 bears. Fast forward to 2016, biologists and wildlife officials estimate the current population to sit at over 700 bears.
These numbers, which have been established for well over a decade, now point to the fact that many believe the Yellowstone Ecosystem is at or very near to its carrying capacity for grizzly bears. With possible delisting comes possible hunting seasons for the regional bears, but U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe has stated that above all else, conservation of these majestic animals is priority number one.
“Even with this proposed delisting, the Service remains committed to the conservation of the Yellowstone grizzly bear, and will stay engaged to ensure that this incredible species remains recovered,” Ashe said in a press release in March. “We will continue to be part of a strong monitoring program, implementation of the conservation strategy, and partnership with our state and federal partners. We are look forward to hearing from the public about the proposal and consulting with Native American tribes.”
The 30-day comment period, which opened on Tuesday, is set to run until October 7, 2016 and officials are asking the public not to resubmit remarks made during the initial comment period, as they have already been taken into consideration for the process of delisting.
Comments can be submitted electronically or via regular mail.