Why It Matters: Delisting the grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) and Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) regions will return the management of the bear to the respective state fish and wildlife agencies. State fish and wildlife agencies have long been recognized as the primary and most effective managers of fish and wildlife in the United States. If delisted, the return of the grizzly to state management would not only reaffirm state wildlife management authority, but it would further signal the conservation success story that is the recovery of the grizzly.
- Recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced the acceptance of petitions submitted from Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus members Governor Greg Gianforte (MT) and Governor Mark Gordon (WY) to delist the grizzly bear in certain areas, initiating a 12-month finding exercise.
- Specifically, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will examine if the grizzly bear population in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) may be considered their own distinct population segment and warrant delisting from the Endangered Species List as a result of healthy, sustainable populations.
- The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) fully supports efforts to delist species once they have met their recovery goals, especially if the species has exceeded their recovery goals, like the grizzly bear.
On February 3, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced the initiation of a comprehensive status review of the grizzly bear in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) and Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), signaling a potential delisting of the grizzly bear.
During the review process, the FWS will examine the best available science and data over a 12-month process to determine if the current population of the grizzly bear in the NCDC and GYE regions warrants delisting under the Endangered Species Act. The recovery of the grizzly bear is an American conservation success story and should be celebrated as nothing less. In 1975, when grizzly bears were listed under the Endangered Species Act, there were as few as 136 grizzlies in the GYE alone. Today, through the investment of countless hours and dollars as well as the result of science-based management, the population in the GYE contains upwards of 700 bears, which is at or near the GYE’s carrying capacity.
The recovery of the grizzly is a direct result of the efforts of inter-governmental collaboration amongst the federal government and the relevant states as well as private landowners. For example, between Fiscal Years 2009 and 2018, the State of Wyoming alone spent more than $16 million on grizzly bear recovery. State fish and wildlife agencies not only have a vested interest in recovering endangered species, but they often are the entities best equipped to carry out on-the-ground conservation, law enforcement, and other management practices that are critical to healthy species and habitats.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will urge the Fish and Wildlife Service to follow the science that demonstrates the successful recovery of the grizzly and return management to the states.