The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is moving forward with plans to remove Yellowstone-area grizzly bears from the Endangered Species List, a decision that defies the best available science and could set grizzly bear recovery back by decades.
This delisting comes amid a recent increase in grizzly bear deaths in the Yellowstone region. Federal biologists documented a record-high 61 grizzly deaths in 2015 and another 58 deaths in 2016, the majority due to conflicts with people.
On June 30, 2017, NPCA joined a coalition of tribal and conservation groups announcing its intention to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service to overturn this harmful decision.
NPCA is extremely concerned that the Fish and Wildlife Service has failed to provide a responsible plan for the bears’ continued recovery and has several major issues with the decision.
- It fails to provide long-term and enforceable regulations to ensure the grizzly population remains stable and is able to increase in both size and geographic scope.
- It could open the way to hunting grizzly bears on private and state-owned land inside and adjacent to the area’s national park sites, further jeopardizing the long-term health of the grizzly population.
- It does not include measures that would encourage connectivity with grizzly bears that live in the Crown of the Continent/Glacier ecosystem, depriving both populations of the genetic diversity they need to thrive.
- It fails to provide the National Park Service with a formal seat at the table to work with state agencies to manage bears that move beyond park borders.
- It fails to properly consider how climate change will impact the grizzly bears long-term.
The stakes are too high to rush the process and remove important protections for these iconic bears.
The 18-million-acre Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is one of the few suitable habitats left in the country that is large enough to support grizzly bears. These animals teetered on the brink of extinction in the 1970s, and the Yellowstone population has grown to more than 600 today — an achievement worthy of celebration.
However, the survival of grizzly bears did not happen by accident. The Endangered Species Act set strict protections, and dedicated wildlife experts and public support made their recovery possible. It took decades of hard work and millions of taxpayer dollars to save these animals from being lost forever, and we must ensure they continue to thrive.
The last time the Fish and Wildlife Service attempted to delist the Yellowstone grizzly bear in 2007, Montana’s 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the decision, stating: “the Service cannot take a full-speed ahead, damn-the-torpedoes approach to delisting—especially given the ESA’s ‘policy of institutionalized caution.’”
NPCA strongly agrees and will continue to work for the species’ long-term health and protection.
More than 17,700 Comments Submitted to USFWS
NPCA supporters submitted comments expressing concern on the proposal to remove Greater Yellowstone grizzlies from the Endangered Species List.
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