In 1975, when grizzly bears were listed here in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem as threatened — a less restrictive form of protection than endangered — there were 200 to 300 grizzlies. Now, there are more than 900 in the ecosystem, and the population increases 2 to 3 percent each year. It is the largest population of grizzlies in the lower 48.
I can already hear Colbert screaming “OH GOD NOOOOOO”
Because of the growth of the grizzly population, United States Fish and Wildlife Service officials are writing a plan to manage the bear if its protected status as threatened, under the Endangered Species Act, is lifted. Such a change is probably at least a few years away. Still, said Christopher Servheen, the service’s grizzly bear recovery coordinator since 1981, “they’re recovered, they’re doing well, they are pushing out in all directions.”
Some here think removing federal protections is overdue, and would welcome it. “You’ll be able to protect your property again” by shooting bears, said Bert Guthrie, a retired sheep rancher. “That’s a good thing.”
A Colbertgasm will be had by all tonight