Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation statement on grizzly bear delisting | TheFencePost.com
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Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation statement on grizzly bear delisting

A large Alaskan brown bear sow walking through the Brooks River in Katmai National Park, Alaska

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced recently that grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem have sufficiently recovered and will be returned to state management. According to a news release from Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, there are approximately 700 bears in the GYE which includes Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

The Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation is pleased to see the FWS take this action.

"The number of grizzly bears have long since reached recovery goals in the area and by taking this action we feel it will provide the management flexibility that can help ranchers in the area better cope with the impacts of these large carnivores," said Ken Hamilton, WyFB executive vice president. "Wyoming will now be able to provide state management over wildlife that is impacting our state."

"I'm sure there will be legal challenges which will be unfortunate since the goals and numbers have been reached and surpassed to delist the species," Hamilton continued. "But we recognize there are some well-financed groups who are not necessarily interested in seeing the species delisted but are instead still anxious to preserve the federal agency's control of state wildlife."

Gov. Mead also praised the decision in a news release issued June 22.

"Grizzly bears have met or exceeded recovery objectives since 2003 and have long warranted delisting. In 2013, I asked Secretary Salazar to delist the grizzly bears and much work toward this end has been done. I appreciate that the FWS is proceeding now with the delisting," Mead said. "The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, which includes the FWS and Wyoming Game and Fish, must be commended for its years of great work. Thanks to the team effort, grizzlies will be managed appropriately by our experts at game and fish. I thank all involved in the delisting effort."

The governor's office provided a brief history: In 2007, the FWS delisted grizzly bears in the GYE. A federal judge reinstated protections in 2009 after finding that the FWS did not adequately consider the impacts of the decline of whitebark pine nuts — a grizzly bear food source. In 2013, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team determined that the reduction in whitebark pine nuts did not significantly impact grizzly bears and again recommended delisting. In March 2016, the FWS published a draft rule to delist grizzly bears in the GYE. States gave additional assurance regarding long-term viability. Wyoming has adopted a Grizzly Bear Management Plan outlining how management will occur after the bears are delisted. That document is available on the Game and Fish website (https://wgfd.wyo.gov/Wildlife-in-Wyoming/More-Wildlife/Large-Carnivore/Grizzly-Bear-Management). ❖