Monday (09-24-18), a federal judge ruled against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and overturned the Service’s action to remove grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the endangered species list. This means grizzly bears in Wyoming are now under federal management. Accordingly, the grizzly bear hunting season authorized for this fall is cancelled.
Governor Matt Mead issued this response, “I am disappointed with this decision. Grizzly bear recovery should be viewed as a conservation success story. Due to Wyoming’s investment of approximately $50 million for recovery and management, grizzly bears have exceeded every scientifically established recovery criteria in the GYE since 2003. Numbers have risen from as few as 136 bears when they were listed in 1975, to more than 700 today.
“Biologists correctly determined grizzly bears no longer needed ESA protections,” Governor Mead noted. “The decision to return grizzly bears to the list of threatened and endangered species is further evidence that the ESA is not working as its drafters intended. Congress should modernize the ESA so we can celebrate successes and focus our efforts on species in need.”
“This is unfortunate. Game and Fish is a strong proponent of all wildlife management being led by people who live in this state and having management decisions made at the local level,” said Scott Talbott, director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
All law enforcement involving grizzly bears will be led by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, though Game and Fish will provide assistance as needed as the agency has in the past.
History of grizzly delisting:
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 2017, the FWS published a rule delisting grizzly bears in the GYE. States gave additional assurance regarding long-term viability. Wyoming has adopted a Grizzly Bear Management Plan, that is has been implementing since delisting in 2017. That document is available on the Game and Fish Department website.