A future conservation strategy was approved by wildlife officials, aiming to remove the Yellowstone grizzly bear population from the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The 2016 Conservation Strategy for the Grizzly Bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem was drafted in mid November and recently approved by the Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee (YES) of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC).

The final vote took place at the IGBC fall meeting in Cody, Wyoming over the course of November 16 & 17, 2016.  The final revision passed with eighteen voting in support, one against and one abstaining.  YES Chair Mary Erickson noted, “The final version of the Conservation Strategy was the result of nine conference calls and five in-person meetings over the last year.”

The strategy includes a Primary Conservation Area (PCA) and its adjacent areas.  The current PCA consists of the bear recovery zone as identified in the 1993 Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan, but the main focus will obviously be to shift the zone from one of managing for recovery to one of future conservation.

The PCA will remain a relatively secure area for grizzly bears, with maintained conditions to ensure the continued recovery of bears.  Bears will be able to expand to acceptable adjacent areas outside of the PCA, where officials are hopeful the bears will utilize and thrive on lands not specifically managed for grizzly bears.

In addition to the above, the proposal intends to provide expanded public information and educational programs along with concerted efforts to quickly address and respond to grizzly bear conflicts in the area.

Finally, the proposal also outlines the steps necessary to successfully manage the grizzly bear as a game animal by allowing a regulated hunting season when and where appropriate.

The proposal has since been submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who proposed delisting the animals back in March, as part of the arduous process.