This fall, Wyoming will allow the legal hunting of grizzly bears in the areas surrounding Yellowstone National Park for the first time in four decades. But wildlife conservationists have expressed concerns that the hunt could have a negative effect on the grizzly population. The area’s bears had been nearly wiped out by 1975, when just 136 remained. Since gaining a protected status, the grizzlies’ numbers have rebounded to around 717 today.
State officials say hunting is needed to manage this growing grizzly population. “We hope that hunting will reduce the number of conflicts between people and bears,” says Renny MacKay of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.