Zinke: Delisting Yellowstone Grizzly from ESA List ‘One Of America’s Great Conservation Successes’
After 42 years of conservation efforts and collaboration among stakeholders, the Interior Department removed the grizzly bears from federal protection, returning the management of the species to states and tribes.
“This achievement stands as one of America’s great conservation successes; the culmination of decades of hard work and dedication on the part of state, tribal, federal and private partners,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement.
In the decades since the species was first added to the endangered species list in 1975, the bear population has quintupled and achieved the goal of the Endangered Species Act, which is to recover listed species “to levels where protection under the Act is no longer necessary,” according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Yellowstone grizzlies reside in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.
“Grizzly bears have met or exceeded recovery objectives since 2003 and have long warranted delisting,” Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead (R) said in a statement. “I appreciate that the FWS is proceeding now with the delisting.” The governor had formally requested the delisting in 2013.
After the delisting of the bear from the endangered species list, the state of Wyoming will take over the management of the species.
“After years of Washington moving the goal posts, Wyoming should be able to move forward with managing our wildlife,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said in a statement. The grizzly bear’s recovery demonstrates just how capable Wyoming is in effectively recovering threatened and endangered species.”
“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,” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said in a statement.
Calling the delisting “great news for Wyoming,” Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) said it was “good to see management returned to state hands where it belongs.”
Ken Hamilton, the executive vice president of Wyoming Farm Bureau, hailed the delisting and recognized the role that farmers and ranchers play in species management.
“The number of grizzly bears ha[s] long since reached recovery goals in the area and by taking this action we feel it will provide the management flexibility that can help ranchers in the area better cope with the impacts of these large carnivores,” Hamilton said.
House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) welcomed the delisting but urged reform of the Endangered Species Act program.
“The time it took to get this delisting is the latest evidence that reform of ESA is sorely needed,” Bishop said in a statement. “Recovery and delisting — and responsible state management that will prevent listings in the first place — must be the goals of ESA, not lifetime sentences on the endangered list fraught with frivolous litigation.”