U.S. Rep Liz Cheney introduced
the Grizzly Bear State Management Act of
2018, which was then referred to the House
of Representatives’ Committee of Natural
Resources where it languished.
Five months later on Feb. 28, Cheney
reintroduced S. 614 – with Sen. Mike Enzi
– that would order the Department of the
Interior to reissue its delisting decision for
Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzlies
and prohibit further court action.
DOI’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife had published
its delisting rule for the GYE population
and Wyoming, along with Idaho and
Montana wildlife agencies, took over their
management. FWS had determined that
these bears had been “recovered” at 500
animals every year since 2003 with an estimated
700 bears in 2018.
Wyoming has committed to maintain 600
bears with different age and sex stipulations
as a buffer.
A conservation coalition sued FWS and
the states, and a Montana district judge
ordered Wyoming’s planned hunt to be
cancelled. Shortly after, Judge Dana Christensen
released his order to reverse the
delisting and return the grizzlies to the Endangered
Species Act. Wyoming and other
agencies are appealing that decision in the
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Last month, the Wyoming Legislature
passed Senate File 93 to allow Wyoming
Game and Fish to proceed with a grizzly
hunt if needed for public safety and to send
captured grizzlies to willing states with appropriate
habitat. Gov. Mark Gordon signed
the bill into law.
On Feb. 15, the Legislature also adopted
House Joint Resolution 001, to request and
support GYE grizzly delisting via Congress,
which the governor also signed.
In other ESA news, on March 6 the Department
of the Interior’s David Bernhardt
announced plans to delist wolves in the
lower 48 from the Endangered Species Act.
Erik Molvar of Western Watersheds Project
– one of the parties in court against FWS
and states over GYE grizzlies denounced
“Rather than monitor the livestock herds
and use nonlethal methods to protect against
threats, the industry relies on the destruction
of native predators through subsidized
wildlife killing programs that target wolves,
coyotes, bears and mountain lions,” Molvar
said in a statement. “The absence of these
predators affects the distribution of native
prey species, which has cascading adverse
effects on ecosystem health.”
Western Watersheds is also one party in
the conservation coalition that intends to sue
the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife
Services, which kills wolves and grizzlies
in many counties to control conflicts
between humans, livestock, wolves and
grizzlies. The USDA’s response against the
complaint is due on April 1.