On Wednesday, wildlife officials in Wyoming approved plans for the state's first season of grizzly bear hunting in 43 years, scheduled to begin on Sept. 1.
Hunters will be able to kill as many as 22 grizzlies during the season, Reuters reports. There are now fewer than 2,000 grizzly bears in the 48 contiguous United States. There were once more than 100,000. By 1975, after decades of shooting, trapping, and poisoning, there were only a few hundred bears left, and they were placed under federal protection.
Last June, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced there were now enough grizzly bears in the region that the species no longer needed to be listed as threatened; conservationists disagree, arguing that the grizzly bear population is vulnerable to climate change and that poaching remains an issue. Native Americans are also outraged. Brian Jackson of the Blackfoot Confederacy told Reuters the grizzly bear is "a sacred being that is central to our religious and life ways. This is not a hunting issue; this is a killing issue."
Earlier this month, Idaho approved a plan that allows for just one grizzly to be hunted when the season opens Sept. 1, while Montana has decided against permitting grizzly hunting, because the state is still concerned about the long-term recovery of the population. Catherine Garcia