The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed on Thursday stripping Endangered Species Act protections from the grizzly bear in and around Yellowstone National Park, saying the animal's numbers have rebounded sufficiently in recent decades.

The estimated tally of grizzlies in the greater Yellowstone region, encompassing parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, has grown to a 700 or more today, up from as few as 136 bears in 1975, when they were formally listed as a threatened species throughout the Lower 48 states.

At that time, the grizzly had been hunted, trapped and poisoned to near-extinction. Its current estimated population well exceeds the government's minimum recovery goal of 500 animals in the region.