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March 16, 2016

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes to Delist Yellowstone Grizzly Bears

On March 3, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposed the delisting of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly bear population and handing-over of management to Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.  Contrary to FWS’s contentions, GYE grizzly bears are far from recovered.  FWS estimates around 700 grizzly bears are believed to live in the GYE and perhaps as few as 800 to 1,000 in the entire lower 48 states, in contrast to the 50,000 grizzly bears estimated to have historically roamed North America.

Wayne Pacelle, president & CEO for The Humane Society of the United States, said: “This same group of states bungled wolf de-listing, and they are making all the same noises on grizzlies – threatening to open up a trophy hunting season.  Other forms of human-caused mortality are up, and bears are facing a range of threats to critical food sources, including white bark pine nuts and lake trout.”

Should GYE grizzly bears be delisted, the states have already signaled, in the form of a leaked memo, that they will open up trophy hunting seasons for the bears.  HSUS believes that opening such seasons is a prime motivation for the states in pushing for de-listing.  “It seems counterintuitive for the federal government to spend years trying to add bears to the population only then to hand off management to states hell bent on allowing trophy hunters to now start killing them,” added Pacelle.

HSUS has already consulted with a range of scientists who believe that delisting is premature.  It was a 1991 lawsuit from The Fund for Animals, an affiliate of The HSUS, that prevented a trophy hunting season on grizzly bears in Montana from being instituted in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.

The public will have 60 days to provide comments to FWS on this proposed plan for GYE grizzly bears and The HSUS will urge its members to share their views on the issues. Comments can be submitted online at regulations.gov, under docket FWS-R6-ES-2016-0042, and at two public meetings to be held in Cody, Wyoming on April 11 and in Bozeman, Montana on April 12.

Media Contact: Chloe Detrick, cdetrick@humanesociety.org, 202-658-9091


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