CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has informed Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead that he shares the governor's desire to end federal protections for Yellowstone grizzly bears.

Salazar wrote to Mead late last week, saying he expects the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies will finish their analysis of the effect of the decline of the whitebark pine tree on bear populations by early 2014.

Scientists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies have been addressing the whitebark pine issue, Salazar wrote. "All participants agreed that the Yellowstone grizzly population was recovered and that declines in whitebark pine do not threaten the future of the grizzly population," he stated.

The bears in the Greater Yellowstone area, which includes the nation's oldest national park and surrounding lands in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, originally were delisted in 2007. However, a legal challenge from environmental groups resulted in the bears being relisted in 2009.

Biologists estimate the Greater Yellowstone area has at least 600 grizzly bears. A federal appeals court last year ruled that more work was necessary to document how the decline of whitebark pine might affect the grizzly population before they could be delisted again.

The whitebark, an important food source for grizzlies and other species, has declined by 90 percent in some areas of the northern Rockies. Officials blame factors including a lack of natural forest fires and warmer weather that results in less snowfall.

Mead wrote to Salazar in May, saying that the gravity of the increasing bear population in areas of Wyoming around the nation's oldest national park cannot be overemphasized. Mead said bears killed four people in the area over the past two years.

Mark Bruscino, supervisor of the large carnivore section at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, said Monday that scientists are increasing bear monitoring efforts, looking at survival and reproduction rates. He said it doesn't appear that the decline of whitebark pine will affect the Yellowstone bear population.

"Bears are the world's greatest omnivores," Bruscino said. "They live in lots of areas without whitebark pine, or anything similar to that, across the Northern Hemisphere, and they do just fine."

The Yellowstone grizzly population increased at yearly rates of 4 to 7 percent between 2000 and 2010, Bruscino said. He said growth has slowed in recent years as habitat has approached its carrying capacity.

"The Yellowstone grizzly population is doing fantastic, it's the wildlife management success story of the last 30 years in North America," Bruscino said.

Once the federal government turns grizzly bear management over to the states, Bruscino said Wyoming intends to allow sport hunting to manage problem bears and to manage bear numbers and distribution.

"We will probably never hunt large numbers, just because there won't be a lot of probably surplus mortality that could go into a hunting quota," Bruscino said. "But we will probably hunt some bears."

The Greater Yellowstone Coalition, a Montana conservation group, had filed the lawsuit that blocked delisting of the bears.

Hannah Stauts, conservation associate with the coalition, said Monday that her group believes it's unknown how the decline of the whitebark will affect the grizzlies. "Certainly it's too soon to tell. There's a reason they're taking the next year or two years to look at whitebark loss," she said, adding that the analysis shouldn't be a rushed or pressured process.

Stauts said her group would like to see a grizzly delisting proposal it can support, but it's too early to talk about a hunting season for the bears when they're still on the Endangered Species List.

Wyoming State Rep. Pat Childers, R-Cody, has worked on wildlife issues in the Wyoming Legislature. He said Monday that he's heard complaints from his constituents that there are far too many bears in the area. "They would like something done about it," he said.

(20) comments

murph
murph

The good news is that we now have a template for delisting. What a concept congress makes the laws. Otherwise the environmental groups will cost the tax payers millions. For the sake of the grizzlies let us hope that they never have to endure the public hatred that the wolves have because of the politics.

As for the likes of c porter maybe you should spend a little time with the Griz you might understand why too many are a problem.

C Porter
C Porter

Who said I haven't spent time with "the Griz????" Making assumptions about people you know nothing about discredits your stance and claims. As for your assertion "too many are a problem." From whose perspective? Humans? Someone could argue the opposite, that there's too many humans. If that's true, then what do we do about it? Kill more bears to make room for more humans? Alternatively, people who are fearful of wild animals could move to a more sterile environment, like an urban city. The people who remain in grizzly bear turf don't whine, instead they make an effort to coexist with grizzly bears by practicing bear-aware safety techniques.

richardr11
richardr11

how many grizzlies in Montana versus that of inbred trigger happy rednecks? There aren't too many grizzlies. The public doesn't hate wolves or grizzlies. It's only trigger happy anti-wildlife terrorist hunters and lazy welfare ranchers who hate wolves.

C Porter
C Porter

"Recovered?" By who's standards? Compared to what data? Number of individuals within the lower 48? Based on it's historical distribution in No. America? If we are using the historical range then it's not recovered. This map shows it's historical range:
http://www.cof.orst.edu/rangecontractions/maps.php

Also, how exactly did those four people die? If I'm hiking or camping in a natural area inhabitated with wild animals that can harm me, then I'm entering their turf and I'm accepting the risks associated with the outdoors. We can't expect nature to alter itself to become this sterile landscape, void of all risk.

Additionally this recent article explains that the 10 out of 16 grizzlies from the Yellowstone region died from natural causes, possibly connected to the decline of whitebark pine trees.
http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/wyoming/biologists-puzzled-by-grizzly-bear-deaths-in-northwest-wyoming/article_df287f82-d7ac-569a-b124-c4f201195f61.html

So let's not rush it Salazar! Let's all be responsible by being bear aware. And wait 10 years or more to watch and research the whitebark pine and grizzly populations.

Dub
Dub

Get the real numbers from FWP and certain numbers are over saturated. C Porter, you say "the lower 48", I'm sure there are some on the bear payroll that would like to average them using all 48 states---don't believe that would a defensible measure if you are using all the states that have NEVER had bears. FWP could sell tags for thousands or dollars and go out and buy some more land or get new trucks with leather, sun roof, etc. Tags for 10 bears a year at $10,000.00 each would provide revenue and would save lots of bears as they would stay off peoples decks and out of their dog dishes. Hard for anti hunters to fathom the benefit to animals with controlled hunting---look at Africa, if it were not for hunting, there would no wild animals. Think about it---

Dub
Dub

The are recovered by all measures. Look at all the Forest Service and data from the envior groups that plan their future meal tickets on grizzly management. They will never be de-listed as long as there are enviro parasites feeding out of the federal trough. They are constantly looking for a new source of money and what's next lynx, badger, gopher, rats, who know's?? As long as there is money being paid to the so called "experts" some animal will be listed. The ESA has a terrible track record but it has allowed the bears to become a pest and now need to be managed by hunters.

richardr11
richardr11

It sickens me to my stomach how much you ant-wildlife killing vermin hunters view wildlife as nothing more than a shooting target. You sick people. The bears are not pests, It's you anti-wildlife killing hillbillies who have no compassion or respect for wildlife who are the real pests. Grizzlies need to be protected.

Bittersweet
Bittersweet

Here is a link for you leotard...

http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/grizzly-bears-die-in-yellowstone-park-region-this-summer/article_4271cf44-d412-11e1-8cf5-001a4bcf887a.html


....and the opening of same article...."Bear biologists are refraining from assigning a single reason for a two-fold increase in the rate of natural grizzly bear deaths in the Yellowstone National Park region."

Same article reads...."Data gathered early this season showed "pretty reasonable" production of seeds in whitebark pine stands that haven't been that productive in the past few years,"

........

"......refraining from assigning a single reason." tell me, someone tell me PLEASE. What possible benefits could a dense population of wolves have on these bears?"

*silence*

richardr11
richardr11

Historically, humans are to blame for more than 75 percent of the bear deaths in the first half of the summer.

You have no idea what goes on in nature you wildlife terrorist. Grizzlies are known to force wolves off their own kills, so wolves actually benefit grizzlies. Not that an ignoramus like you would understand this.

Bittersweet
Bittersweet

leotard said..."Historically, humans are to blame for more than 75 percent of the bear deaths in the first half of the summer."

......

Thank you. You just made my first point.

........

leotard also said .."You have no idea what goes on in nature you wildlife terrorist."

.....

That statement means a lot coming from you Princess Hollywood.


wes d
wes d

Great, now we can have an all out war on Grizzlies like we do wolves. Let's see, what can we blame them for......? They're killing all the elk I wanna kill!! Or, They're taking our jobs!!! Or, These bears are Commie, Socialist, that hate capitalism. Something to the effect of some or all of these would work well to get people in an uproar.

Iceman9
Iceman9

What else would one expect from a region that's long been home to a psychopatic right-wing wackos who are distorting the truth and telling lies as if they're facts?

Roger
Roger

Obviously it's time to delist the grizzly - it can always be reversed if too many bears are killed. The obstructionists will never, ever agree with it, no matter how many bears there are and how many problems they cause.

Bittersweet
Bittersweet

Did you not read the latest stats leotard? It has been documented (as to date) more grizzlies died of "natural" causes in this region that by the hands of humans this year. "Natural" includes starvation, intraguild predation, cannibalism etc.. Makes you go hrmmmmm??? What happened to wolves being so great for the Grizzly population in this region? Oh, plenty more Grizzly deaths will be (directly) human (and indirectly, wolf related) this year so don't you frett. There will be plenty for you to throw a tantrum about before hibernation.

richardr11
richardr11

Nowhere in this article did I see that. Hunters/humans have killed a lot of grizzlies even though they are supposed to be protected. Grizzlies need to be protected from anti-wildlife vermin sport hunters. Most of the grizzlies that have been killed were by humans, not natural causes as you claim. Make no mistake, the real conservationists will fight to keep the grizzlies relisted. Killing a wild animal for "sport" is what a spineless coward does.

Dawn M
Dawn M

Control the bears, control the wolves, control the bison. So on and so forth. How about we "de-list" Salazar and Mead instead?

Roger
Roger

Now that's a sensible solution (sarcasm alert).

C Porter
C Porter

Amen!

Iceman9
Iceman9

Not only that, I'd like to suggest subjecting them to a public beating during halftime at this weekend's NCAA Final Four Tournament. Sponsor of the beatings: Louisville Slugger!

richardr11
richardr11

and how many bears have been killed by people mr. mead? The grizzly needs to be protected plain and simple and I suspect that the real conservationists will fight to keep the grizzly on the esl. The esl is where it belongs

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