Huffaker on Hand for Grizzly Delist Announcement

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Idaho Fish and Game Director Steve Huffaker will be on hand Tuesday in Washington D.C. when U.S. Interior Secretary Gayle Norton announces the end to the Yellowstone grizzly's time on the endangered species list.

Huffaker is to attend the announcement and press conference in his capacity as chairman of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.

Grizzly bears in the area known as the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which includes part of Idaho in the Henrys Fork area, were one of the first animals to be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act some 30 years ago. The bears have been under federal protection pending removal from the list.

With "delisting", Idaho will be responsible for management of Yellowstone grizzlies. The few grizzlies in north Idaho's Selkirk Mountains are not part of this population and will remain fully protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Huffaker said the move to delist Yellowstone grizzlies comes as "all criteria in the recovery plan have been met and exceeded." Idaho will manage the bears under a plan ( approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Montana and Wyoming plans have also been approved by the federal agency.

Yellowstone grizzlies will be classed by Fish and Game and Idaho law as a big game animal. Huffaker said there is, however, "no immediate plan to hunt grizzlies in Idaho. This is a small population."

The move does allow Idaho to deal with problem bears without seeking the approval of federal authorities.

Huffaker said the Washington D.C. event will allow a "celebration" of "enlightened policies" that led to successfully removing the bears from the endangered species list.