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US may lift protections for Yellowstone, Glacier grizzlies

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Biden administration took a first step Friday toward ending federal protections for grizzly bears in the northern Rocky Mountains, which would open the door to future hunting in several states.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the governors of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming provided “substantial” information that grizzlies have recovered from the threat of extinction in the regions surrounding Yellowstone and Glacier national parks.

Friday’s decision kicks off a yearlong study before a final decision. Grizzlies were exterminated in most of the U.S. early last century by overhunting and trapping.

The last hunts in the region occurred decades ago. There are now more than 2,000 bears in the Lower 48 states and much larger populations in Alaska, where hunting is allowed.