Wyo. deputy director testifies before Senate on grizzly bear management and other efforts
October 23, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), welcomed John Kennedy, deputy director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, to the committee. Kennedy was testifying before the committee at a hearing titled "From Yellowstone's Grizzly Bear to the Chesapeake's Delmarva Fox Squirrel — Successful State Conservation, Recovery, and Management of Wildlife."
The hearing focused on elevating the role of states in wildlife management, conservation, and species recovery activities. The hearing followed a July legislative hearing on the Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2018, draft legislation authored by Barrasso. The draft bill has received broad support from stakeholders, state and local governments, and conservation organizations.
Barrasso introduced Kennedy to the committee prior to his testimony. "I would now like to introduce Mr. John Kennedy, who serves as deputy director for internal operations at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
"Mr. Kennedy began his career at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in 2004 as the service division chief. In that role, his duties included, but were not limited to, coordinating the agency's management of wildlife habitat, as well as conservation education.
"Now, as deputy director, Mr. Kennedy is responsible for the agency's oversight of the fish, wildlife, services, and fiscal divisions.
"He also serves on a number of committees of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Each of these positions has provided Mr. Kennedy with valuable wildlife conservation, recovery, and management expertise.
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"Mr. Kennedy, it is a privilege to welcome you to the Environment and Public Works Committee," said Barrasso.
In his written testimony, Kennedy detailed how the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has worked to successfully manage hundreds of wildlife species across the state.
"The department's core priority is to manage fish and wildlife using sound scientific principles while maintaining stakeholder satisfaction with the wide array of recreation activities and experiences Wyoming has to offer.
"Activities to achieve this priority include actively monitoring fish and wildlife populations; adjusting regulations to ensure sustained use; maintaining a dialogue with users, conservationists, and other government managers; conducting research; enforcing laws and regulations; assisting in habitat conservation and restoration efforts; maintaining public access to recreation; promoting hunter and boater safety; providing conservation information and education; building effective partnerships; maintaining sound business management and accounting processes; and more," said Kennedy.
In his testimony, Kennedy detailed Wyoming's efforts to manage and recover the grizzly bear and several other specific species. "By many accounts, the biggest conservation success story in North America is the successful recovery of the grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem…. Today, grizzly bears have expanded to all suitable habitats and have saturated the core habitats in the ecosystem."
He continued: "The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has invested enormous fiscal and personnel resources to monitor and manage the grizzly bears over a period of decades. Since 1980, the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission has invested over $50 million in grizzly bear recovery – more than any other single entity."
Kennedy also stressed the need for reform of the Endangered Species Act. He pointed to a recent court decision to relist the grizzly bear as an example. "Wyoming citizens are extremely frustrated by this decision and the resulting transfer of management authority back to the federal government. This decision is proof positive that the Endangered Species Act is in need of reform."