The current court challenge to the Wyoming and Idaho grizzly hunt is only the tip of the iceberg . . .
While most stories about last week’s grizzly bear court hearing trumpeted the last-minute suspension of trophy hunts in Wyoming and Idaho, the lawsuit had nothing to do with the legality of grizzly hunting.
And while it did focus on whether grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem still need federal protection, the eventual decision will affect a far larger landscape. That points up a conundrum of the Endangered Species Act: It’s one challenge to recover a species, but quite another to delist it.
U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen didn’t render a decision from the bench on Thursday as many expected he might. But he did grant a 14-day restraining order blocking Wyoming and Idaho from starting their grizzly hunts on Saturday.
Here’s a good overview article from the Daily Inter Lake discussing the complexity of the upcoming decision on delisting grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem . . .
For four years, research ecologist Tabitha Graves has studied grizzly bears at the U.S. Geological Survey’s NOROCK West Glacier Field Station.
The hulking ursines bring more than tourists to Northwest Montana. “They have a pretty big role in this ecosystem,” she told the Daily Inter Lake. “We don’t often think about these kinds of details, but they disperse a lot of seeds, [and] they dig a lot,” helping circulate nutrients through the forest floor.
Understanding their benefits requires estimating the number of bears in the region – no easy task in a 16,000-square-mile “demographic monitoring area.” Graves and her colleagues add barbed wire to the tree trunks that bears rub along, then have the hair they collect DNA-sequenced, gaining a sense of which individual bears frequent which spots.
The feds officially announced they are removing the Yellowstone ecosystem grizzlies from the Endangered Species List . . .
For the first time in more than four decades, the Yellowstone grizzly bear is set to lose its federal protections under the Endangered Species Act. Citing a rebound in the bear’s population, the U.S. Department of Interior announced its intention Thursday to end these protections and return oversight of the animal’s status to the state level.
The agency says the rule to remove the grizzly from the endangered species list will be published “in coming days” and “will take effect 30 days after publication.”
“This achievement stands as one of America’s great conservation successes; the culmination of decades of hard work and dedication on the part of the state, tribal, federal and private partners,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement. “As a Montanan, I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together.”
They finally brought someone in to take Chris Servheen’s old job. Dr. Hilary Cooley is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s new grizzly bear recovery coordinator . . .
The federal official charged with leading the U.S. polar bear program has departed Alaska for Missoula, Montana, to oversee grizzly bear recovery in the Lower 48.
Hilary Cooley, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s new grizzly bear recovery coordinator, has stepped into the job vacated by 35-year veteran Chris Servheen. Cooley will have the opportunity to finish what Servheen started: seeing through the Endangered Species Act “delisting” process for Yellowstone-area grizzlies, which turns over jurisdiction from Fish and Wildlife to Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.
The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s grizzlies, she said, are ready to be managed by the states.
The grizzly bear delisting process is making its way through the federal bureaucracy.
It’s a lot like watching paint dry . . .
The work of crafting a draft final rule to delist the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s grizzly bears is complete, and now the plans must navigate the many layers of federal bureaucracy.
The timeline for publishing the rule is unclear, in part because of the transition of presidential administrations and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s own influx status, said Jodi Bush, the agency’s Montana Ecological Field Office supervisor.
“We’ve had all of our packages stopped in headquarters lately,” Bush said in an interview at the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee’s Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee meeting held in Jackson last week. “They want to look at stuff. With the [recently protected] bumblebee it took an additional 39 days for them to get through it.”
This article really should have been longer; there’s a lot to think about here. Still, it’s worth reading . . .
Grizzly bears continue to expand their range amid an ongoing effort to turn over management of the bears from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to the states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, a federal official said.
“We’ve seen an 11 percent change in increasing range in just a couple of years,” Frank van Manen, head scientist of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, said last week at a meeting in Jackson.
Since coming under the protection of the Endangered Species Act, grizzlies have steadily expanded their habitat outward from the population’s core in Yellowstone National Park.