The Wildlife Society recently submitted comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service supporting the agency’s Proposed Rule to remove the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) population of grizzly bears (Ursos arctos horriblis) from the federal list of endangered and threatened wildlife species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
When grizzly bears were listed as “threatened” under ESA in 1975, the GYE population had plummeted to as few as 136 individuals. Today over 700 grizzly bears exist in GYE, greatly surpassing the ESA recovery goal of 500 individuals. Stable population growth trends and sustainable mortality rates prompted USFWS to propose delisting in early March.
The Wildlife Society recognizes grizzly bear management and research efforts in GYE as a model for how state and federal cooperation, along with the development and application of sound science, can reverse the decline of even a controversial species with large landscape-level habitat requirements. By recognizing the GYE population of grizzly bears as a “distinct population segment” under ESA, USFWS can delist the GYE population—which has consistently met all of its biologically sound recovery targets—while still maintaining necessary ESA protections for the remaining five grizzly bear recovery areas in the United States.
The Wildlife Society expects state agencies to continue monitoring and managing the species as outlined in their state management plans and Conservation Strategy to ensure that a viable population of grizzly bears persists in GYE. TWS also encourages USFWS to reinstate protections under ESA if the GYE grizzly bear population falls below long-term population viability parameters established by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team.
For more information, see TWS’ position statement on the delisting of grizzly bears in the GYE.
|Lauren McDonald is a policy intern at The Wildlife Society as part of the Government Affairs & Partnership program.|