Cheyenne, Wyo. - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says they have reached a major milestone in the recovery effort for Yellowstone-area grizzly bears.
A Thursday afternoon announcement is planned about an hour and a half before Wyoming Governor Matt Mead plans to sign bill HJ0004 - a joint resolution requesting congress to seek removal of the gray wolf and grizzly bear populations from listing under the Endangered Species Act.
An estimated 700-1000 grizzlies live in the Yellowstone region of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.
The fearsome predators once roamed much of North America. Trapping and hunting widely exterminated them across most of the Lower 48 states by the early 1900, and grizzlies were given federal protections as a threatened species in 1975.
State officials have been pressuring the federal government to lift protections. They want to allow trophy hunting of the animals.
Opponents say lifting protections could prove disastrous for a population that's seen its food supplies diminish due to factors including climate change.