I attended the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) meeting held in Missoula on Nov. 29 to submit a comment on the potential delisting of the grizzly in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.
In a parody of democracy, public comment, scheduled for 3 p.m., began shortly after 2 p.m. and ended long before a fraction of the large crowd assembled had an opportunity to speak.
Under pressure from a small but vocal minority who either wish to see the bear delisted for trophy hunting or refuse to take adequate but inexpensive measures to protect their crops or livestock, the IGBC has split Montana's grizzly habitat into "distinct population segments," arbitrarily and unscientifically drawing boundaries around genetically isolated and vulnerable bear sub-populations. This "gerrymandering" of bear habitat allows the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to claim a recovery for the grizzly that they have not yet achieved for the species as a whole within their historic range.
When the grizzly was listed as "threatened," it was as one single population. The grizzly is on the road to recovery; let's not threaten 40 years of progress with a premature and politically — not scientifically — motivated decision to delist this iconic Montana species.