The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday proposed that grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem be removed from the federal lists of endangered and threatened wildlife.

Wildlife and Communications Bureau Chief with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Ron Aasheim said the proposed delisting process has been going on for decades.

"The goal of the ESA (Endangered Species Act) is to recover threatened and endangered species, and with adequate monitoring and safeguards in place, to turn over management to the states," Aasheim said. "Those goals have been achieved and all the criteria have been met. There will be a 60 to 90 day comment period and then the Fish and Wildlife Service will make a final decision."

Aasheim said permission to hunt the grizzly bear is still a very long way off.

"Any decisions on whether the bear would be hunted would be made by the Fish and Wildlife Commission here in Helena, and would have to be thoroughly vetted and there would be public meetings before any decision like that could be made. One of the things we hear is that once the bears have been delisted, the states will just start indiscriminately over-hunting bears, and nothing could be further from the truth. We're going to very careful."

According to the National Fish and Wildlife Service, the Yellowstone grizzly bear population has rebounded from less than 100 in the mid 1970's to over 700 today.


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