Here are some important updates to the ongoing efforts by the US Fish & Wildlife Service to delist and remove endangered species act protections from the Yellowstone grizzly populations. On September 7th a new 30-day period was opened to public comments to address the scientific peer review of the delisting documents and the management plans being put forward by Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.
- Read the USFWS announcement and submit comments HERE
- You can read the scientific peer reviews HERE
- Review Montana’s management plan HERE
Given all of the uncertainty facing the Yellowstone grizzly and its habitat, we do not think it is time to declare victory the bear just yet. Removing the critical protections for the bear under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is not the right course of action at this time and could reverse hard won victories for the bear.
The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is an island ecosystem and the grizzlies there remain isolated and unconnected to other populations in the US. Climate change has had and continues to have a serious impact on the bear’s habitat and food sources like whitebark pine nuts and Yellowstone cutthroat trout populations. These factors do not appear to be changing for the better and will continue to have an impact on the grizzly.
However, the single most egregious outcome of delisting will be the trophy hunting of the bear in the three states that border Yellowstone National Park. As we’ve pointed out the bears face enough threats as it is, and placing them in the crosshairs is irresponsible. Killing grizzlies for sport in no way to proves the success of the ESA, quite the opposite, it takes 40 years of worthwhile effort and expenditure and throws it out the window.
PCEC feels strongly about seeing continued protections for the grizzly to allow it to maintain its vaunted recovery from as little as 136 bears in 1975 to an estimated 700 in 2016. Grizzly bears are a part of the fabric that makes this place special. We must protect our wild backyard and the grizzly in order to maintain the wildness that we love.
The Endangered Species Act has clearly helped the recovery of the Yellowstone Grizzly. Retaining those protections until we have a clear path forward or an alternative protection mechanism in place is critical. The bald eagle faced multiple threats and recovered from the brink of extinction with the help of the endangered species act, and still remains protected post-delisting. What about the grizzlies?