Yellowstone grizzlies have increased in population since they were put on the Endangered Species’ list. Now, some experts believe their protection status could be removed, which might allow hunters to hunt them.
Grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park area saw unprecedented growth this year after being granted protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1975, indicates a new study. This has caused many hunters and their associations to call for the species’ removal of their protection status, so that they could once again be legally hunted for sport.
The study, published in Molecular Ecology, which had “independent demographic evidence for Yellowstone grizzly bear population growth since the 1980s,” indicated that there was enough sustainable and diversified population of the grizzlies in the Yellowstone National Park. The scientists were able to monitor more than 750 bears and observed that the genetic diversity in the population had been quite stable and healthy, reported Philly. From a technical perspective, the “effective population,” which is also referred to as “the number of bears passing genes to the next generation,” has quadrupled in the last 25 years, said team leader and USGS wildlife biologist Frank van Manen.
“We already knew the grizzly bear population had been growing since the mid-1980s from our demographic analyses. This study demonstrated that, in parallel with demographic growth, the effective population size (i.e. the number of individuals contributing genes to the next generation) increased as well.”
Essentially, there has to be genetic diversity in the bear population not just to ensure the species survives, but thrives in the specific region. An abysmally low genetic diversity could cause sudden extinction of the population in case of diseases. The same law applies to plants and crops.
The study, conducted through the collaborative participation of the University of Montana, U.S. Geological Survey, Wildlife Genetics International, and the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team points out sustained population surge of the grizzlies — so much so that they might become a threat to the region’s resources and humans as well, continued van Manen.
“Grizzly bears are moving into areas outside the recovery zone. They are getting into more and more of those areas where the potential for conflicts are greater.”
The National Wildlife Federation, too, feels it might be wise to take the grizzlies off from the list of protected species, primarily because the Endangered Species Act has achieved its goal. Grizzlies were added to the list so that their species could survive and recover. Incidentally, taking the grizzlies off the list won’t mean their protection will be revoked, clarified the National Wildlife Federation through a statement, which read as follows.
“The Endangered Species Act is intended to lead to recovery and delisting, so long as adequate plans exist to assure recovery continues. Over a decade of work has gone into creating a conservation package for Yellowstone’s grizzlies to ensure that the bears continue to thrive once taken of the list.”
Despite the assurances from the Federation, hunting the grizzlies might become a lot easier soon. In fact, 24 grizzlies have been euthanized by wildlife managers in the Yellowstone region in this year.
Grizzlies in Yellowstone are increasingly venturing out of their zones to hunt for food, since resources have been getting low, reported Christian Science Monitor. These hungry bears have started to hunt local livestock and other human food sources, said Kerry Gunther, Yellowstone National Park’s bear management program leader.
“They’re bumping up against the social human tolerance of where they can be.”
Sportsmen and ranchers who wish to hunt the grizzlies in Yellowstone have been lobbying to get the bears off the list for quite some time. Now that they have proof of the bear’s healthy population and that these bears are now threatening the region and humans, will the grizzly bears be hunted for sport?
[Photo by Karen Bleier / Getty Images, Robert Alexander / Getty Images, Feng Wei / Getty Images]