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Grizzly bear delisting makes waves across U.S.

Written by Saige Albert

On June 22, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced the delisting of the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear under the Endangered Species Act. The delisting decision was made after U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) determined that grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem were recovered.

“Grizzly bears have met or exceeded recovery objectives since 2003 and have long warranted delisting. In 2013, I asked Secretary Salazar to delist the grizzly bears and much work toward this end has been done. I appreciate that FWS is proceeding now with the delisting,” Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead said. “The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, which includes the FWS and Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD), must be commended for its years of great work. Thanks to the team effort, grizzlies will be managed appropriately by our experts at WGFD. I thank all involved in the delisting effort.”

Praise for the effort

Wyoming’s congressional delegation also praised FWS for its work and the delisting decision.

“I am pleased to see the administration recognizing the recovered status of the grizzly bear in the Yellowstone area,” U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) said. “Grizzly bears in Yellowstone have been recovered for many years, so it is good to see management returned to state hands where it belongs. This is great news for Wyoming.”

  U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) continued, “We already know the grizzly bear has fully recovered in Wyoming. After years of Washington moving the goal posts, Wyoming should be able to move forward with managing our wildlife. The grizzly bear’s recovery demonstrates just how capable Wyoming is in effectively recovering threatened and endangered species.”

  “For years, the Obama administration failed to acknowledge the successful hard work and dedication of the state, tribal and federal partners, which led to the healthy recovery of the grizzly bear population inside the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem,” said Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.). “This welcome decision to delist the grizzly bear from the Endangered Species Act rightly returns management of the Yellowstone grizzly to where it should be, under the control of experts in Wyoming, not Washington.”

In the state, Wyoming Farm Bureau’s Ken Hamilton said, “The number of grizzly bears has long since reached recovery goals in the area, and by taking this action, we feel it will provide the management flexibility that can help ranchers in the area better cope with the impacts of these large carnivores.”

Hamilton added, “Wyoming will now be able to provide state management over wildlife that is impacting our state.”

Controversy

However, the decision does not come without some controversies.

High Country News cited five specific aspects of the decision that struck a particular chord with environmental groups.

Tribal nations, including the Cheyenne, Blackfeet, Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes, signed the Grizzly Treaty, which commits them to restoring and revitalizing grizzly bears across North America.

Other are concerned about state management plans, which could allow hunting. Wildlife advocates fought against delisting, but managers in many areas say that bear populations are on firm ground.

When the delisting rule was first proposed, more than 650,000 public comments were received by FWS, which delayed the decision, but ultimately, the bears were delisted.

Conserved species

WGFD noted that the state has spent over $45 million on grizzly bear recovery and management while the species has been listed.

They also noted that WGFD has managed bears for many years with the approval of FWS. Management for the future will continue under the guidance of the Wyoming Grizzly Bear Management Plan.

“The recovery of grizzly bears is a success all of us can celebrate. It took an incredible amount of commitment and work by diverse interests to get to such a health and viable population of bears in the Greater Yellowstone Area,” WGFD Director Scott Talbott.

All states have mechanisms in place to ensure grizzly bear populations will remain above criteria, according to WGFD. States will also coordinate management efforts.

Populations are conservatively estimated at 690 bears currently inside the Demographic Monitoring Area, and the largest portion of that population is in the state of Wyoming.

The delisting goes into effect 30 days after the Federal Register listing of the decision.

Saige Albert, managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, compiled this article from numerous press releases. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..