SCI strongly supports two bills introduced in congress to reinstate a rule that removes Yellowstone grizzly bears from the threatened species list and restores state management.
Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY), Chair of the House Republican Conference, has reintroduced legislation in the U.S. House directing the Department of the Interior (DOI) to re-issue a previous grizzly bear delisting regulation. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) has introduced a companion bill in the U.S. Senate.
Entitled the Grizzly Bear State Management Act, the respective House and Senate bills respond to the September 2018 ruling that invalidated a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s regulation that removed the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem population of the grizzly bears from the threatened species list and restored state management of the population. The bill directs the Service to reinstate the rule. If enacted, the bill would also prevent judicial review of the reissuance of the regulation.
“The Grizzly Bear State Management Act stops the abuse of the court system by environmental extremists, safeguards the scientifically proven delisting determination and puts management of the grizzly bear back in the hands of Wyoming,” Cheney said in a Feb. 28 joint press release.
“I’m pleased to reintroduce this bill and continue fighting for the important work done by the state of Wyoming to establish its own effective grizzly bear management plan,” she added. “The decision by a Federal District Court Judge in Montana to re-list the grizzly ignores science and reinstates one-size fits all federal management. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and with President Trump to fight for Wyoming’s statutory right to manage wildlife.”
In the same release Senator Enzi said: “It’s clear that under the Endangered Species Act, grizzly bears in the Yellowstone region are fully recovered, that they should be delisted and management returned to the states. …. I have been working on this issue for over 20 years, and we already knew back then that grizzly bears had already fully recovered.
“Unfortunately, we have seen environmental groups take advantage of the court system in the face of wildlife management experts and the science presented before us” he said. “Our legislation would finally right that wrong by once again delisting the bears and stopping further frivolous and litigation on this issue.”
SCI strongly supports these efforts.
“SCI views the recovery of the Yellowstone grizzly bears as a conservation success story, and since at least 2006 has advocated for the delisting of these bears from the threatened species list,” said SCI President Paul Babaz. “Success should lead to movement forward—state management and well-regulated hunts—not needless expenditures of federal resources on a population that has been recovered for more than a decade.”
In 2018, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) determined that “[t]he [grizzly bear] population has rebounded from as few as 136 bears in 1975 to an estimated 700 today and meets all the criteria for delisting.”
FWS biologists determined that the bears currently exceed the carrying capacity of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem which occupies more than 22,500 square miles. Despite these determinations, a Montana Federal judge blocked DOI’s rule to delist the grizzly bear. The delisting is strongly supported by the Wyoming legislature.
On Feb. 19, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon signed House Joint Resolution 0001 requesting action by the U.S. Congress.