Yellowstone grizzlies no longer need protection |

Yellowstone grizzlies no longer need protection

A federal panel of experts says grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park are doing so well that the government no longer needs to protect the animals.

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee voted unanimously to end federal protection of the bears in the famed national park. The recommendation could result in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service altering its rules for managing the grizzly population in Yellowstone, which is estimated to be between 629 and 740 bears.

Six years ago, federal regulators tried to delist Yellowstone grizzlies, but a federal judge, Don Molloy, stopped the process after ruling that it was unclear from a scientific perspective how dependent grizzlies were on whitebark pine nuts as a food source. Whitebark pine trees in and around Yellowstone have been devastated by disease, which has killed nearly 75 percent of them.

Environmentalists objected to the delisting then, and now.