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Grizzlies set to lose protected status

November 23, 2005 This article courtesy of Nature News.

Yellowstone bears may be removed from endangered list.

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Grizzly bears may soon lose some federal protection around one of their most famous locations, Yellowstone National Park.

On 15 November, the US Fish and Wildlife Service proposed removing the Yellowstone population of grizzlies (Ursus arctos) from the list of threatened and endangered species.

Since 1975, when it was first listed, Yellowstone's grizzly population has grown from 220 bears to 600. More than 50,000 of the animals used to roam the United States. The proposal would not affect bears in the national park itself, but would affect those living around its boundaries in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

As the bears leave the list, another species is set to join. Last week, the government proposed listing a population of about 90 killer whales (Orcinus orca) that live in Washington state's Puget Sound. But Congress is currently considering legislation that would lessen the protections conferred by the Endangered Species Act. A final decision on the whales and bears will be made in mid-February, after a period for public comment.

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