Wyoming is taking another shot at bringing back the grizzly bear hunt. Gov. Mark Gordon, calling it a "wonderful day of celebration, not only for the grizzly bear but for Wyoming," announced Thursday that the state will seek the lifting of federal protections for the bears in the Yellowstone region, which also includes Idaho and Montana, the Billings Gazette reports. Grizzly bear numbers in the region have rebounded from around 100 when they were listed as a threatened species in 1975 to more than 1,000 today. "We have proved time and time again that we are experts in wildlife conservation," Gordon said.
Gordon said the request will be filed with the US Fish and Wildlife Service within weeks, the AP reports. The agency will have 90 days to determine whether delisting could be warranted, and a year after that to make a final decision. Wyoming Game and Fish Department Director Brian Nesvik promised that any hunt would be strictly regulated. He said his department has to kill around 35 grizzly bears a year for killing livestock or causing other problems with humans, which "seems like a waste of a resource."
Grizzly bear protections were lifted in 2017, but they were restored by a federal judge in 2018 before the state's first grizzly bear hunt in decades could take place. The ruling was upheld by a federal appeals court in July. Center for Biological Diversity attorney Andrea Zaccardi slammed the "outrageous" request to turn the bears into "trophy hunting targets," saying Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana can't be trusted to manage grizzly bear populations responsibly. (Read more grizzly bear stories.)