Grizzly: Endangered Species or Recovery Success?
Thanks to SnowDude2002 for posting this great pic.
Once again, the Grizzly Bear is under pressure. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to publish shortly a plan which will propose removing grizzlies of the Yellowstone Park from protection as endangered species. Is this a resounding success for the protection program or a politically motivated decision?
In the three decades the bears have been protected, the population in Yellowstone has grown from an estimate of less than 200 to between 450 and 600 bears today. Biologists and environmentalists knowledgeable about the issue estimate that 2000 to 3000 bears are necessary in all six protected areas before the population can be considered stable; there are approximately 1200 to 1400 bears in all protected areas. The NRDC will oppose the proposal, reporting that the states of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana all have plans to legalize hunting bears if the proposal succeeds and that loosened restrictions on development will further challenge the ecosystems on which the bears depend.
Advocates of delisting note that many protection and restoration activities will continue, being returned back to State control. One must ask though, can the real truth in advocates' backing of the delisting be seen in the comment of Teton County Commissioner Jay Underwood, who welcomes the delisting proposal. As reported by Dan Boyd in the Idaho State Journal Underwood "believes the presence of grizzly bears could hurt the region's tourism industry by discouraging visitors from venturing into the wilderness." Is this about a sustainable species or maximizing tourism profits?
Of course, the people who have to live with the bears have a say in the issue as well. Some would welcome any proposal which allows the bears to be killed if they wander outside of their designated areas.
Let us hear from you, especially if you can add your expert opinion: is the Grizzly a success ready for delisting or should the Treehugger readership be mobilized to add their voices to those opposing removal of the Grizzly from Federal protection? If the outcry favors the latter, you can look to Treehugger to point you to the right place to make your voice heard by the decision makers.