THE PUBLIC BACKS BEARS
Public Opposition to Delisting
In the public processes related to management of Yellowstone grizzly bears during the last two decades, the public has come out swinging for bears and their habitat. These relate to revisions of the 1992 federal recovery plan, habitat management standards, state plans, and two delisting proposals.
The most recent public process, triggered in 2016 by the decision to remove protections for the Yellowstone grizzly bear (“delist”) a second time, precipitated the largest response from the public ever. Over 99% of the more than 850,000 comments expressed vigorous opposition to delisting and support for stronger protections. In each previous case, the final plans that were adopted were virtually unchanged in response to public comments.
Following is a summary of public comments, including where and when they were registered. These summaries pertain to all of the grizzly bear-related planning processes except to two undertaken by Montana.
In 1997, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) released a “Habitat Based Criteria” plan, designed to establish habitat goals for recovery in response to a federal court ruling in 1995. Of the 15,750 comments submitted to FWS, over 97% expressed support for strengthening habitat standards.
In 2000, the FWS released the Draft Conservation Strategy, directing the implementation of the Habitat Based Criteria. The FWS received 16,794 comments, of which over 99% supported strengthening the plan.
In 2001, the state of Wyoming released its plan for management of the grizzly after delisting. Over 8,000 comments were submitted, more than have been received for any other wildlife plan in Wyoming history, “shattering the record,” according to Wyoming Game and Fish Information Officer Larry Kruckenberg. Over 95% of the comments were in support of strengthening grizzly protections and expanding grizzly range beyond the FWS recovery zone line.
As part of the Wyoming planning effort, a 2001 telephone survey of Wyoming citizens was conducted inquiring into peoples’ attitudes towards grizzlies. This survey was solicited by Wyoming Game and Fish. Of the 1500 citizens interviewed, 87% agreed that grizzlies are an important component of their ecosystem, and 74% agreed that grizzlies are a great benefit to Wyoming. And a majority of respondents supported a plan that would allow grizzlies to expand into all suitable habitats in Wyoming (66%), including the Wyoming Range (73%) and Wind River Mountains (67%).
In 2001, the state of Idaho also released its draft plan for managing grizzlies after delisting. Over 80% of these comments supported stronger protections for the grizzly.
Only Montana, which developed a plan in 2003, revised slightly in 2013, did not tally public comments.
In 2006, FWS released a draft plan to remove protections from Yellowstone grizzlies. Over 99% of the roughly 212,000 comments submitted on the plan opposed delisting and supported stronger protections for the grizzly.
In 2016, FWS released another draft plan to strip protections from Yellowstone grizzlies. Over 99% of the roughly 850,000 comments submitted on the plan opposed delisting and supported stronger protections.
In conclusion, public sentiment has been consistently and clearly supportive of not only maintaining, but expanding current levels of protection for bears. It is time that the government listen.
MORE ARTICLES DEBUNKING DELISTING
Yellowstone’s grizzly bear population is still not recovered! Yellowstone’s population of roughly 750 grizzly bears is completely isolated from all other grizzly bear populations and much smaller than the 2000+ animals widely considered necessary for long-term viability.
Read a summary of the key claims of being made by government scientists and managers, and a response to each. its necessarily long due to the complexity of the issues presented. But its worth understanding what is really going on.
In 2009, federal endangered species protections were restored for the Yellowstone grizzly bear population in response to a court ruling that found that the government had failed to evaluate the effects of the collapse of whitebark pine, a key staple for the population. In 2013, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST) issued a report, “Response of Yellowstone grizzly bears to changes in food resources: a synthesis”, that concluded that whitebark pine was not essential for recovery of the Yellowstone grizzly bear. REALLY IGBST??
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), over 850,000 comments were submitted on the 2016 proposal to remove endangered species protections (“delist”) the Yellowstone grizzly bear. Over 99% of those comments opposed delisting.
In the public processes related to management of Yellowstone grizzly bears during the last two decades, the public has come out swinging for bears and their habitat.