For the first time in more than 40 years, the U.S. Department of Interior is set to loosen federal protections under the Endangered Species Act concerning the Yellowstone grizzly bear, NPR reported. As a result of the bear's rebounding population, the agency's decision will transfer oversight of the animal's status back to the state level.
The Interior Department said the rule to remove the grizzly from the endangered list will be published "in coming days" and "will take effect 30 days from publication."
"This achievement stands as one of America's great conservation successes; the culmination of decades of hard work and dedication on the part of the state, tribal, federal and private partners," Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement. "As a Montanan, I'm proud of what we've achieved together."
The grizzly bear, which typically roams in areas of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, has been subjected to federal protections since 1975. Since then, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear population has increased from 136 to 700.
While the move by the Interior Department may be a cause of celebration for some, others at the Endangered Species Coalition are approaching the agency's announcement with caution--ensuring that states develop adequate management plans before delisting is finalized.
And while the grizzly bear may been experiencing an uptick in its population, overall statistics are quite grim.
"In the 1800's, approximately 50,000 grizzly bears roamed the lower 48 states. Today, fewer than 2,000 remain," the coalition noted.