One of Yellowstone National Park’s most famous residents has been killed.
Officials from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks announced last week that “Scarface” the grizzly bear was shot by a hunter last fall, just outside of the park’s boundary near Gardiner, Montana.
The species is covered by federal protection in 48 states in the U.S. under the Endangered Species Act. As such, wildlife officials and federal police have begun an investigation into who killed the bear.
The grizzly got his nickname from the marks on his face, which he obtained through fights with other male bears. It’s fairly common for these bears to fight for females during the mating season or over food. However, the particularly distinctive wounds on “Scarface” meant he was quickly recognizable, making him a longtime favorite among conservationists and wildlife photographers.
At his largest, the 25-year-old bear weighed over 270 kilograms (600 pounds), although he recently lost almost half his body weight due to his old age. Although it is likely that Scarface was reaching the end of his life, many wildlife experts and photographers have expressed their grief.
On the blog of wildlife photographers Jill Cooper and Simon Jackson, a statement read: “Our emotions alternate between shock, sadness, anger and a profound sense of loss.”
Over the past few years, rising numbers of the species has provoked debate on the grizzly bear's place on the Endangered Species List. The photographers’ statement goes onto to say: “Urgently, in the United States, plans are moving ahead to delist the great bear from the endangered species list and those plans will lead to trophy hunting a population that is genetically isolated and, clearly, still susceptible to conflicts with people.”
They added: “Please, if you choose to do anything to honour Scarface, choose to make your voice heard by May 10th to stop the de-listing of grizzlies in the Lower 48: http://1.usa.gov/1SMydLC.”
a bear that I had the pleasure of seeing one day in Yellowstone has passed. Rest In Peace Scarface pic.twitter.com/pvYwWXs1QV
— mc hammer (@madisoncherry88) 25 April 2016
Main image credit: rwarrin/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)