Mead asks feds to expedite delisting of grizzly bears

May 30, 2012 The Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead is calling on the federal government to end federal protections for grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone area.

Mead wrote to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar last week saying that the gravity of the bear situation around the nation's oldest national park cannot be overemphasized. Mead said bears killed four people in the area over the past two years.

Biologists estimate the Yellowstone area had nearly 600 bears last year. The area includes parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. More than 90 percent of Yellowstone National Park itself is in Wyoming, but the grizzly zone includes border areas around the park in all three states.

Biologists say removing grizzlies from federal protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act could take a couple of years. Delisting bears could allow the states to schedule hunts.

Mead says Wyoming has invested more than $35 million in the bear recovery effort over the last 28 years.

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