The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee recently held a hearing to discuss a bill to permanently delist the Yellowstone grizzly bear population and return management to state agencies.
“There is absolutely no question in my mind that the grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem deserves and needs to be delisted,” Chuck Roady, a member of Montana’s Grizzly Bear Advisory Council, told the Bozeman Chronicle. “The sooner, the better.”
The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem population of grizzly bears has surpassed every threshold for recovery, including exceeding population levels. In the Greater Yellowstone Area, a population of 500 grizzly bears was the threshold that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would use as a standard for successfully recovery. Today, the bear population is conservatively estimated at approximately 750 (and as high as 1,000 by some counts), far above that threshold, and well above the low of 125 bears in the 1980s.
The legislation would also prohibit any future litigation over the issue. The Obama administration first proposed delisting the species due to growing populations expanding well beyond their traditional range. Court rulings later returned grizzlies to federal protections.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation maintains that state agencies should manage grizzlies just as they manage black bears, elk, mountain lions, deer and other wildlife.
(Photo source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)