For the first time in more than four decades, the Yellowstone grizzly bear is set to lose its federal protections under the Endangered Species Act. Citing a rebound in the bear’s population, the U.S. Department of Interior announced its intention Thursday to end these protections and return oversight of the animal’s status to the state level.
The agency says the rule to remove the grizzly from the endangered species list will be published “in coming days” and “will take effect 30 days after publication.”
“This achievement stands as one of America’s great conservation successes; the culmination of decades of hard work and dedication on the part of the state, tribal, federal and private partners,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement. “As a Montanan, I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together.”
Since those federal protections were instituted in 1975, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear population has climbed from 136 to roughly 700, according to the National Park Service. The NPS says the bears — which generally roam in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho — “have gradually expanded their occupied habitat by more than 50%.”
The Kermode bear (Ursus americanus kermodei), also known as the “spirit bear” (particularly in British Columbia), is a rare subspecies of the American black bear living in the Central and North Coast regions of British Columbia, Canada. It is noted for about one-tenth of its population having white or cream-colored coats like polar bears. This color is due to a double recessive gene unique in the subspecies. They are not albinos and not any more related to polar bears or the “blonde” brown bears of Alaska’s “ABC Islands” than other members of their species.