Feds move to lift Yellowstone bear protections

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A Grizzly bear mother and her cub walk near Pelican Creek October 8, 2012 in the Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.(KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

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BILLINGS, Mont. — The federal government is proposing to lift threatened-species protections for Yellowstone-area grizzlies.

The move could open the door to future hunts for the fearsome bears across parts of three states.

The Associated Press obtained details of the proposal in advance of a planned Thursday announcement.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe says the proposal caps a four-decade recovery effort. It follows the lifting of protections for other high-profile species, including the gray wolf and brown pelican.

Since 1975, the number of grizzlies in the three-state Yellowstone region increased from 136 to an estimated 700 to 1,000 animals.

Hunting within Yellowstone National Park would still be prohibited, but the proposal could allow animals to be taken in surrounding parts of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. A final decision is due within a year.

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