BILLINGS, Mont. -

A high-ranking Democratic lawmaker says he opposes removing federal protections for Yellowstone-area grizzly bears without more stringent restrictions on future hunts for the animals.
   
A decision on protections for grizzlies in the Yellowstone region of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho is expected by year's end.
   
U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva said in a Tuesday letter to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe that he wants grizzly hunting prohibited in areas adjacent to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.
   
The Arizona lawmaker is the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee.
   
He says he's heard concerns from parks administrators that state-sponsored hunting could kill bears that frequent Yellowstone and Grand Teton.
   
Grijalva also wants a strategy in place to make sure the Yellowstone region's 700-bear population remains stable or increases.