Delisting grizzly bears is on hold, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced last week.
Officials had planned to be able to remove grizzlies from Endangered Species Act protections by the end of 2016, and to turn the job of managing Greater Yellowstone’s bears over to the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
But the states’ and agencies’ rush to finish by the end of last year meant a disjointed, uncoordinated and messy process (click here and here for our posts on this) that ultimately proved fatal to their own timeline.
While our work with bears goes deeper than delisting, the upside of the delay is that it keeps bears protected. In the meantime, the USFWS must address the numerous substantive issues that we and our partners raised, as well as the comments our members and supporters submitted. We’re proud that more than half a million people sent in comments in 2016 – it shows people are paying attention and care deeply about grizzly bears. Good job, everyone!
The downside is that political pressure to delist bears is only increasing, when what bears need are thoughtful, science-driven approaches that will safeguard the 40-year, $40 million investment American have made to bring Yellowstone grizzly bears back from the brink of extinction.
We have to get this right. We’re losing bears at alarming rates right now. Already 106 Yellowstone-area bears have been killed in the past two years, after conflicts with livestock, from being hit by cars, and during run-ins with hunters. It’s the highest number of bear deaths in a short time period since bears were listed in 1975. GYC is investing heavily in on-the-ground work to keep bears alive, but we can’t do it alone. We are committed to continuing to grow and expand our proactive conflict reduction work, while playing defense when necessary.
We’ll be asking you to help us as we remain vigilant against political meddling at the state or federal level. Grizzlies not only represent the wildness of Yellowstone, but they also represent the success of the Endangered Species Act. We’ll be counting on you to help keep this crucial law intact.
Thank you for supporting our work.
-- Chris Colligan, Wildlife Program Coordinator