Home » News » Articles » Could the grizzly end up on endangered list again?

Last year was a rough one for the Yellowstone grizzly-bear population: in 2008 71 grizzlies were killed out of a total population of 600. That's more than one-tenth of the estimated Yellowstone National Park grizzly population.

Could the grizzly end up on endangered list again?

As a result, attorneys from the Earthjustice activist group have filed motions asking that the Yellowstone grizzly bear be placed back on the Endangered Species List, a move that would afford the remaining bears a higher level of protection.

But is such a move necessary — or will it even be effective? Out of the 71 grizzlies killed in 2008, only 48 were killed by hunters, and out of those 20 were killed by hunters claiming self-defense. So while preventing grizzly bears from being hunted will save some, it won’t necessarily eliminate all killings.

It will, however, give the grizzly a fighting chance in a much larger fight: the loss of food due to pest infiltrations and global warming.

Here’s the deal. During slow times grizzly bears will eat just about anything, but they derive a lot of sustenance from whitebark pine-tree seeds, located in Yellowstone’s high country. But beetles are now getting to those seeds first; the climate in Yellowstone National Park’s high country has warmed enough to where it’s possible for beetles to get a foothold in the local ecosystem. Plus, with fewer seeds hitting the ground, there are fewer seedlings taking root, leading to a death spiral of sorts. With fewer pine-tree seeds, there’s less food for grizzlies. And where there’s less food, there are fewer grizzlies.

Putting grizzly bears on an endangered list won’t directly address this issue; indeed, the issue really cannot be addressed by the National Park Service at all. But by classifying the grizzlies as endangered, it does give the remaining population a fighting chance for survival — and ultimately that’s the sole reason for its existence.

 

Keep up with the latest in Yellowstone National Park news with our free weekly Yellowstone Insider newsletter. Subscribe today! More details here. We’ve also set up a free Twitter account so you can receive updates on the device of your choice.

 

About admin

Check Also

Yellowstone National Park South Entrance, Yellowstone visitation

Feds Seek Forfeiture of Money Seized in Yellowstone National Park

Federal authorities are asking to keep over $20,000 in  money seized earlier this summer in ...