U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, and Representative Liz Cheney, all R-Wyo., released the following statements today regarding the decision by the Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the grizzly bears within Yellowstone.
“I am pleased to see the administration recognizing the recovered status of the grizzly bear in the Yellowstone area,” Enzi said. “Grizzly bears in Yellowstone have been recovered for many years, so it is good to see management returned to state hands where it belongs. This is great news for Wyoming.”
“We already know the grizzly bear has fully recovered in Wyoming,” said Barrasso. “After years of Washington moving the goal posts, Wyoming should be able to move forward with managing our wildlife. The grizzly bear’s recovery demonstrates just how capable Wyoming is in effectively recovering threatened and endangered species.”
“For years the Obama Administration failed to acknowledge the successful hard work and dedication of the state, tribal, and federal partners which led to the healthy recovery of the grizzly bear population inside the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem,” said Cheney. “This welcome decision to delist the grizzly bear from the Endangered Species Act rightly returns management of the Yellowstone grizzly to where it should be, under the control of experts in Wyoming, not Washington.”
The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) Distinct Population Segment (DPS) consists of portions of northwestern Wyoming, southwestern Montana and eastern Idaho. Grizzly bear populations outside of this DPS in the lower 48 states will be treated separately under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and will continue to be protected by different guidelines.
The GYE grizzly bear population is one of the best studied bear populations in the world. Population and habitat monitoring efforts undertaken by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team indicate that GYE Bears have more than doubled their range since the mid-1970s and now use more than 22,500 square miles. Stable population numbers for grizzly bears for more than a decade also suggest that the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is at or near the top capacity for supporting grizzly bears. The grizzly bear population within the GYE has rebounded from a low point of close to 136 bears in 1975 to almost 700 bears today.
This decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) was informed by over four decades of intensive, independent scientific efforts. The GYE grizzly bear population was determined to be recovered because multiple factors indicate it is healthy and will be sustained into the future. These factors include not only the number and distribution of bears throughout the ecosystem, but also the quantity and quality of the habitat available and the states’ commitments to manage the population from now on in a manner that maintains its healthy and secure status.
In addition to this final rule, the USFWS will also release a final supplement to the 1993 Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan for the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear population. The Conservation Strategy that describes management of the grizzly bear following delisting was finalized by the Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee of the IGBC in December of 2016.