Grizzly Bear File

A grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park on May 19, 2020.

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A handful of Republican senators, including Montana Sen. Steve Daines, introduced an act in the U.S. Senate on Thursday that would remove Yellowstone grizzly bears from the Endangered Species List.

The “Grizzly Bear State Management Act of 2021” would roll back long standing protections for the bears and allow them to be hunted for the first time in decades. It would also prevent courts from blocking the decision, according to a Thursday afternoon news release from the senator.

“Montana-led management is what’s best for our communities, public safety, ecosystems, wildlife, and the grizzly bear itself,” said Daines in the news release. “It is time to delist the grizzly bear and return management to Montana.”

According to the National Park Service, there were an estimated 728 grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem in 2019, much more than the 136 that lived in the area in 1975 but down from the estimated peak population of 757 bears in 2014.

Grizzlies were classified as an endangered and threatened species in 1975. Removing the bears from the Endangered Species list has been a hot issue for several years.

In 2017, the Interior Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service faced pushback after attempting to remove the animals from the list of endangered species. A Missoula U.S. District Court judge blocked that decision. That judge’s decision was upheld in 2019 by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that the FWP’s decision to remove grizzlies from the list was made using inconsistent science and for political reasons.

This isn’t the first time Daines has attempted to remove protections for grizzlies.

In 2020, the senator co-sponsored a similar bill with Sen. Mike Enzi, R-WY.

The 2017 attempt by the U.S. FWP also wasn’t the first time the federal agency had tried to delist the animals. FWP tried and failed to delist Yellowstone grizzlies from the Endangered Species Act in 2007.

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651. 

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