In a sad day for wildlife conservation, officials and wildlife photographers mourned the death of Scarface, a Yellowstone grizzly bear renowned for his singular facial scars. The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks department announced that while the bear was shot last fall by a hunter in Montana, they have only recently identified him as the cherished bear.
Scarface likely received his scars from battle with other male grizzlies over either food or female bears during mating season. He was around 25 years old, nearing the end of his life. According to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, “Less than five percent of male bears born in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem survive to 25 years.” At his peak he weighed more than 600 pounds but he had lost about half of that weight. He was old. Yet that doesn’t in any way excuse his killing. Not only was he a beloved animal, he was also protected under the Endangered Species Act. Due to this violation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now investigating the shooting.
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Wildlife photographers Simon Jackson and Jill Cooper of Ghost Bear Photography said in a blog post, “…our emotions alternate between shock, sadness, anger, and a profound sense of loss.”
There’s been some controversy over grizzly bears recently as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has indicated they want to delist grizzly bears from the Endangered Species Act. Since 1973, around 2,000 species have been protected under the act, and only around three dozen have ever been delisted. At one point grizzly bear numbers plummeted down to around 136, but as their population has climbed back to around 700, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeks to take them off the list. If the bears are delisted, they could be hunted again legally outside of National Parks.
Regardless of the decision, the National Parks Service said that management and conservation efforts of grizzly bears will remain unchanged in their park.
Images via Peter Stevens on Flickr and rwarrin on Flickr