State and federal wildlife officials are being asked to rush through a plan to revoke the grizzly bears' threatened species status because of pressure from hunters and ranchers, conservationists say.

Conservationists will be here when the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee meets Tuesday and Wednesday to consider the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's newly released final grizzly bear recovery plan.The committee, made up of federal and state wildlife agencies who have jurisdiction over grizzlies, must adopt the plan before the grizzly could be considered for delisting under the Endangered Species Act.

The estimated 1,000 grizzlies in five or six areas of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington have been listed as a threatened species since 1975.

The final recovery plan fails to take into account a variety of safeguards that should be implemented to protect the animals, conservationists say.

Chief concerns include the number of bears - at least 236 and probably more than 300 - the Fish and Wildlife Service cites for the greater Yellowstone area.

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"All the independent scientists we talk to seriously question the method used to estimate number of bears, which is based primarily on the number of females and females with cubs seen in recovery areas," said David Guillard of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition in Montana.

"We're also concerned there's too much emphasis on bear numbers while ignoring the fact there is no meaningful long-term habitat protection, meaning roads could be built, mining and timber-cutting activities could take place, all in the recovery areas."

The goal of the recovery plan, which includes population, distribution and mortality targets, is to ensure grizzly numbers never fall below the current level, said Chris Servheen, grizzly bear recovery coordinator.

The idea is to ensure Yellowstone's grizzlies are no longer threatened, said Servheen, who added that doesn't necessarily mean they will be taken off the threatened species list any time soon.

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