Research: Grizzlies not so dependent on pine nuts
Federal research indicates grizzly bears in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem have a varied diet and are minimally affected by a decrease in the number of whitebark pine trees.
The findings were presented Thursday at a meeting of the Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.
The subcommittee voted 10-4 to accept the research findings and recommend that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service remove federal protections for the bears, currently listed as "threatened."
The USFWS delisted the bears in 2007, but a federal judge returned the protection two years later, saying the decline in whitebark pine trees weren't given adequate consideration.
Whitebark pine nuts are a key food source for grizzlies as they prepare for hibernation.
The studies found grizzlies in the Yellowstone ecosystem are eating more elk and bison meat.
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