Native American tribes battle with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over planned sport hunting of rejuvinated grizzly population in Yellowstone.
With grizzly bear populations returning to healthy state, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to have them removed from the protection of the U.S. Endangered Species Act. This is currently being greatly opposed by Native American tribes in the area.
Hunting of grizzly bears has been illegal since they were added to the endangered list in 1975. Yellowstone National Park housed the majority of the population and when they were added to the threatened list only 136 of the massive bears were left roaming the area. In the past four decades grizzly populations have soared to over 750 across the Northern Rocky Mountain states.
As of now, a panel made of federal, state, and tribal officials is in charge of grizzlies in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. They have given the all clear for the last two years on grizzly population levels. However, members of the Ecosystem Subcommittee demand to talk to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services before they officially make a decision concerning the removal of the bears from the list.
This dispute from the Native Americans was unexpected and surprising for many officials involved. Tribes feel this will lead to the inevitable sport hunting of a highly respected animal in their culture.
The Northern Cheyenne, one of the 33 tribes currently involved, feel that any hunting of these great beasts is offensive to tribal spiritual traditions. Their reservation is even named "Bear Butte," after the great strength of the grizzly and their ancestral history with the animal.