On June 22, 2017, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) will delist the Yellowstone population of the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis). According to the Service, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Distinct Population Segment (Yellowstone DPS) of the grizzly bear has recovered to the point that federal protections are no longer necessary and overall management of the species can be returned to the states and tribes.
The Yellowstone DPS consists of grizzlies in portions of northwestern Wyoming, southwestern Montana and eastern Idaho. The Service estimates that the population has rebounded from as few as 136 bears in 1975 to approximately 700 today. The Yellowstone DPS now occupies more than 22,500 square miles, more than double its range from the mid-1970s. The Service determined that delisting was warranted based on several factors, including the number and distribution of bears throughout the ecosystem, the quantity and quality of the habitat available, and the states’ commitments to manage the population in a manner that maintains its healthy and secure status.
Grizzly bear populations outside of the Yellowstone DPS, in the lower 48 states, will continue to received protection under the Endangered Species Act. The Service’s final rule will be published in the Federal Register in coming days and will take effect 30 days after publication.