Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation Submits Letters to Reaffirm State Management Authority of Grizzly Bears and Gray Wolves

Last week, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a letter opposing H.R. 2532, the Tribal Heritage and Grizzly Bear Protection Act, which is scheduled for a legislative hearing in the House Natural Resources Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee on May 15th.

On May 13th, CSF sent an alert to Members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) who serve on the House Natural Resources Subcommittee opposing H.R. 2532 in order to reaffirm state wildlife management authority of Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) Grizzly Bears. The recovery of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly bear is an outstanding conservation success story and should be celebrated as such.

At the time of Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing in 1975, it was estimated there were as few as 136 grizzlies. However, through dedicated funding from state and federal agencies, science-based management, and other conservation efforts, the grizzly bear has recovered to a level that is near, or at, the GYE’s carrying capacity with approximately 700 bears in the region. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has determined that the GYE Grizzly has recovered to a level that federal listing under the Endangered Species List is no longer necessary, and the primary management of the species should be returned to the states that have the expertise and resources to manage wildlife effectively.

On the same day, CSF submitted a letter to the Service regarding a proposed rule to remove the gray wolf from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Similar to the GYE Grizzly, the Service has determined the gray wolf has recovered to the point where federal listing is no longer necessary. In its 1992 Revised Recovery Plan for the Eastern Timber Wolf, the Service defined a Minnesota population goal of 1,251 – 1,400 individuals spread across 40% of the state for Minnesota and 100 individuals each for Michigan and Wisconsin, respectively. Recent surveys suggest there are now well over 2000 wolves in Minnesota, and Michigan and Wisconsin have exceeded their targets of 100 individuals each year since 1996.

CSF is supportive of the ESA, but also recognizes the need to delist species once they have met their recovery goals. Once species are recovered and are not in danger of extinction now or in the foreseeable future, they should be removed from the list and management should be returned to the state agencies who are best suited to conserve our nation’s fish and wildlife populations.

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