Lummis introduces bill to delist grizzly bears in Wyoming

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A bill removing grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the Endangered Species List was introduced today by Senator Cynthia Lummis.

“By all scientific measures, the grizzly bears of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are fully recovered. Reproductive numbers are stable and the population is at or near its max capacity for the habitat. It’s time to remove the grizzlies in this area from the Endangered Species List and allow wildlife scientists in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho to manage the populations according to science,” Lummis said.

An additional aim of the bill would be to shift management of the grizzlies to wildlife scientists in the states.

“Grizzly bears are an essential part of the ecosystem of Wyoming, but keeping them listed hurts their populations more than it helps them. Wildlife managers that live near the bears and study them closely have a better idea of population parameters than bureaucrats in Washington. It’s time to delist the grizzly in our area and let science dictate our wildlife policy,” said Lummis.

The bill titled The Grizzly Bear State Management Act of 2021 was drafted alongside Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, Senators Mike Crapo and James Risch of Idaho, and Senator Steve Daines of Montana.

Senator Barrasso expressed that the state of Wyoming should be in charge of their bear population rather than the federal government.

“The science is clear: the grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are thriving and do not need protection under the Endangered Species Act. This has been true for years. Even President Obama’s Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed with me that the grizzly bear should be delisted in 2015. The state of Wyoming should be in charge of managing the bear population,” said Barrasso.

In 1975, there were 136 grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In 2019, there were 728 bears, evidence of an effective conservation effort. At this point, grizzly numbers have been in the 700s for a number of years. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team’s analysis suggests that the park is at or near its ecological carrying capacity for grizzly bears.

The Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association (WYOGA) explained that in Wyoming a Grizzly Bear population recovery has been evident for nearly a decade.

“Long overdue is the need to delist the Grizzly Bear, … yet whose removal from Endangered Species classification has been inappropriately forestalled by activist environmental organizations,” said WYOGA.

However, in 2018 a federal judge returned grizzly bears to the Endangered Species Act protection, blocking the first Wyoming hunt of the animal in more than three decades.

In the 48-page ruling, Judge Christensen said the USFWS determination that the grizzly was ready to come off federal protection was “arbitrary and capricious because it is both illogical and inconsistent with the cautious approach demanded by the ESA (Endangered Species Act).”

Christensen added that USFWS, in analyzing threats to the Yellowstone bears, failed to account for how delisting the 750 Yellowstone-area bears could affect the estimated 1,200 in five other recovery areas. Christensen also said the USFWS failed to prove to him that genetic diversity would be viable with 750 Yellowstone-area bears.

About The Author

Buckrail @ Caroline

Caroline Chapman is a Community News Reporter who recently made Jackson home. Born and raised in Connecticut, she enjoys reading non-fiction, skiing, hiking, and playing piano in her downtime. She is most passionate about delivering and pursuing stories that directly impact the lives of individuals in the community. Her favorite aspect about living in Jackson is the genuine admiration that Wyomingites share for the land and the life that it sustains.

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