WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo and U.S. Representatives Mike Simpson and Russ Fulcher (all R-Idaho) joined lawmakers from Montana and Wyoming to urge Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to heed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) study demonstrating the full recovery of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly bear populations and return species management to the states.
“It has been sixteen years since the GYE population was first proposed for removal from the endangered and threatened species list and since then, Republican and Democratic Administrations alike have supported returning the GYE management to the states,” wrote the lawmakers. “Grizzly bears have nearly tripled the extent of their occupied range in the GYE since the 1980s and reporting a conservative estimate of 737 bears, the USFWS believes it has reached carrying capacity.”
“We are hopeful that future management of the bear will follow the science, honor the commitment and resources invested by Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho over the past five decades, and not be subject to political whims,” the letter concluded.
To read the letter, click here.
Background: Grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem met their recovery goals more than a decade ago. In 2017, the Fish and Wildlife Service removed the Yellowstone population of the grizzly bear from the endangered species list, citing a significant increase in bear populations and a doubling of their range land. However in September 2018, a federal judge in Montana ruled to put the Yellowstone grizzly bear back on the endangered species list despite the population surpassing recovery targets. The state of Wyoming appealed the decision, and in July 2020 a federal appeals court in San Francisco upheld the continued federal listing for Yellowstone grizzlies.
In March 2021, Risch and Crapo introduced the Grizzly Bear State Management Act which would remove grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the endangered species list and shift management to the states.
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