At a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Enzi, R-Wyo., advocated for grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to be removed from the list of endangered species and for states to manage the species.
The hearing focused on S.614, the Grizzly Bear State Management Act, which Enzi introduced in February 2019. The bill would direct the Department of the Interior to re-issue its 2017 decision to delist the grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and prohibit further judicial review of this decision.
“Wildlife experts and federal officials agree that the grizzly bears in Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem have been fully recovered for years,” Enzi said in his testimony at the hearing. “Senseless litigation still continues to hinder the effective state management and protection of the species.”
Enzi said that while proper management of grizzly bears is critical to protecting the species, it is also critical to protect people from potential attacks and the species that grizzly bears disproportionately prey on.
“As the grizzly bear population has increased in Wyoming, so has the danger these animals pose to livestock, property and to humans,” Enzi said. “That’s why I believe the authority to manage the species needs to be turned over to the states. I have often found that states are better suited to address these kinds of issues because they are more familiar with the unique needs of their own communities and ecosystems.”
The grizzly bear was first listed on the federal threatened species list in 1975. In 2017, the Fish and Wildlife Service removed the grizzly bear from the endangered species list, citing a significant increase in bear populations and a doubling of their range land. In September 2018, a federal judge in Montana ruled to put the grizzly bear back on the endangered species list. The state of Wyoming appealed the decision, and in July 2020 a federal appeals court in San Francisco upheld the continued protections for the grizzly bear.
U.S. Senators Steve Daines, R-Mont., John Barrasso, R-Wyo., James Risch, R-Idaho, and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, are cosponsors of the Grizzly Bear State Management Act. Congresswoman Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., introduced an identical companion bill in the House last year.