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By: Jessica Jin

Last month, a grizzly bear killed a hiker on the outskirts of Yellowstone National Park. Government officials around the Yellowstone National Park area now wonder if they should remove the Endangered Species Act protections for grizzly bears to lower the chance of attacks.

Around the 1930s, grizzly bears almost went extinct. So in 1975, the bears were put on the list for the Endangered Species Act. This act protected the bears from extension, making it illegal to hunt them. The bears have now quadrupled in number since 1975.

The more grizzly bears in an area, the more they compete for food. Scientists say that Yellowstone National Park’s bears’ food, such as the nuts from whitebark pinecones, is becoming more and more scarce, mostly because of the growth in grizzly bear numbers. So some bears end up looking for food near places where people hunt or hike.

Grizzlies also end up in places right outside Yellowstone to look for more food, such as ranches. Hannibal Anderson lives on his family farm just outside Yellowstone National Park. He says that the bears usually don’t bother people. But after the food that the bears usually eat has become scarce, more bears can be seen on the farm grazing. Sometimes, a bear might even take a cow from the ranch.

When seeing that more bears are in the area, Anderson takes more precautions to try to protect his cows. He believes that all of the predators in the area are important parts of the ecosystems. So he does whatever he can to keep himself, his cows, and the bears at peace.

But leaders around Yellowstone National Park see the grizzly bear problem very differently than Anderson. To stop further bear attacks, these government officials want to take the bears off the list for Endangered Species Act. This would allow for hunters to hunt grizzlies again. In some states they could have trophy hunting for grizzly bears. This would most likely cause the bears’ population number to dwindle again like in 1930 if the bears were truly not protected anymore.

With more grizzly bears populating Yellowstone National Park, the more important it is that people take precautions, like bringing bear spray when hiking and camping. It's definitely possible for humans and bears to coexist in one area without trouble with enough effort. By adapting to the bears, we can stay out of their way as they stay out of ours.


Fatal grizzly attack near Yellowstone renews bear overpopulation debate : NPR

This is no time to strip endangered species protections from grizzly bears | HSLF

Yellowstone National Park's grizzly bears face shortage of food, posing more danger to people -

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