Yellowstone Grizzly Bears Delisted
Author: teddygirl | Friday April 06, 2007
The following is from Defenders of Wildlife, an organization that protects all native wild animals and plants in their natural communities.
Defenders of Wildlife today hailed the grizzly bear's dramatic comeback in the Yellowstone region, but promised to remain vigilant to ensure that rollbacks in national forest protections by the Bush administration do not undermine the bear's recovery in the long-term. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced today the removal of the grizzly bear in the Yellowstone region from the threatened species list. The continued success of grizzly bear recovery will depend on national forests surrounding Yellowstone National Park being managed to protect bear habitat.
"The Endangered Species Act has been the linchpin for grizzly bear recovery in Yellowstone. We can celebrate the law's success because there is once again a healthy and thriving grizzly population in the Yellowstone region," said Jamie Rappaport Clark, executive vice president for Defenders of Wildlife and former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "The responsibility now lies with the United States Forest Service to promote continued recovery of the grizzly bear."
Former Chief of the Forest Service Dale Bosworth stated in a letter shortly after delisting was first proposed that the Forest Service will implement the grizzly bear conservation strategy through its forest plans. The letter came in response to concerns raised by Defenders of Wildlife and other conservation organizations that the Bush administration's new planning rules under the National Forest Management Act could allow grizzly bear habitat protections to be removed from forest plans during the revision process. Defenders also expressed concern that the Bush administration's continued efforts to weaken protection for roadless areas made grizzly bear conservation uncertain. While Bosworth's letter and the reinstatement of the roadless area protection rule by a federal court have reduced those concerns, Defenders of Wildlife promises to keep a close watch on national forest management in the region.
"We believe that, if implemented properly, the conservation strategy and state plans will ensure the bear's long-term survival, but only time will tell whether the government will live up to its commitment to protect habitat," Clark added.
In the Yellowstone ecosystem, the number of grizzly bears has grown steadily since they were first listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1975. Back then, about 200 grizzlies lived in and around Yellowstone National Park, but the population has been increasing between four and seven percent each year, and now scientists count nearly 600 bears. With proper management of habitat and key food sources, scientists estimate a 96 percent likelihood of having a healthy grizzly bear population in the Yellowstone ecosystem for the next 500 years.
To foster grizzly bear recovery in the northern Rockies, Defenders of Wildlife created a companion to its highly successful wolf compensation program by establishing The Bailey Wildlife Foundation Grizzly Compensation Trust in 1997, which compensates livestock owners for the full market value of animals confirmed killed by grizzly bears. Defenders then established The Bailey Wildlife Foundation Proactive Carnivore Conservation Fund to cost-share with ranchers, state, tribal and federal agencies, outfitters and others on measures to prevent livestock predation and human-bear conflicts. These innovative programs have worked to increase the acceptance of large carnivore recovery in local communities.
For more information, visit Defenders' website: http://www.defenders.org