Wyoming delegates sponsor grizzly delisting

Last September,

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

the thought.

“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.

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