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Wyoming petitions federal government to delist Yellowstone grizzly

A grizzly at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone. Today, there are an estimated 1,400 to 1,700 grizzly bears in the contiguous U.S.
A grizzly at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone.

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon has filed a petition asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the Greater Yellowstone area grizzly bear.

The petition asks the agency to establish bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem as a distinct population segment (DPS) that is neither threatened nor endangered, and to remove it from the endangered species list.

"There is no biological or legal reason why the GYE grizzly bear DPS should not be removed from the List," the petition reads. "From the biological perspective, the population is recovered and its removal from the List will not further threaten the existence of the other grizzly bear populations in the conterminous United States."

Grizzlies were first added to the endangered species list in 1975. Wyoming's petition says the population of the GYE grizzly has grown from 136 bears then, to more than 1,000 today.

FWS delisted the grizzly in 2007 and 2017, but both times the moves were blocked in court.

The petition filed this week follows a similar petition submitted by Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte last month asking the agency to take grizzlies in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem in the Northwestern part of the state off of the endangered species list.

Montana, Wyoming and Idaho recently signed a tri-state memorandum of agreement that spells out how the Yellowstone grizzly would be managed if it were to be delisted.

The Fish and Wildlife Service will review the petitions and make an initial decision on whether to further consider the requests.

Olivia Weitz covers Bozeman and surrounding communities in Southwest Montana for Yellowstone Public Radio. She has reported for Northwest News Network and Boise State Public Radio and previously worked at a daily print newspaper. She is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and the Transom Story Workshop.