January 13, 2022 |
Here we go again. Wyoming’s been here before. Governor Mark Gordon this week officially petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem population of grizzly bears from the Endangered Species List.
The petition takes on critics of state management of the species, Ursus arctos horribilis, which was first given federal protection in 1975. Protection made sense then. As few as 136 bears survived in the Greater Yellowstone region. The 27-page petition details the 46-year history of recovery efforts. Its narrative of a successful recovery effort is supported with charts, graphs and maps, to demonstrate that more than 1,000 grizzly bears roam the region today.
Wyoming makes argument that grizzly bears, by any and all measures, have been fully recovered since 2003. They are not threatened or endangered by habitat, disease, regulations or any other man-made factors.
Governor Mark Gordon, in a separate statement Tuesday, said that the Greater Yellowstone grizzly bear “is ready to join the ranks of the bald eagle, American alligator, peregrine falcon and brown pelican as receiving proper recognition as a thriving, recovered and stable species.”
The petition states that the federally approved model for estimating bear populations — considered the most accurate method of counting individuals — estimates the number to be over 1,000. This is more than double the required minimum to demonstrate recovery for genetic diversity and reproductive purposes. The document also details how the concerns of judges who ruled against Wyoming in recent court cases have been addressed.
Governor Gordon said there is no biological or legal reason to keep the Greater Yellowstone grizzlies listed.
As part of the effort to win control over the Greater Yellowstone grizzlies, Wyoming joined with Montana and Idaho in signing Tri-State Memorandum of Agreement. The contract establishes new targets and management practices to keep the bear population well-above the minimum recovery level following delisting.
The Wyoming Wildlife Federation and the Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association support delisting. Other groups, like the Center For Biological Diversity, were quick to voice their objections.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has 90 days to review the petition. The agency can deny or approve the petition at that time. If approved, the delisting process could take up to a year to complete.