The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced that it will soon publish the final delisting rule for the Yellowstone grizzly bear. The final rule and supporting documents will be made available in the coming days through the Federal Register. The rule will take effect 30 days after publication.
What Does This Change Mean?
Removing Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the Yellowstone grizzly population means that Idaho, Montana and Wyoming will take over management responsibility in each respective state. Each state has a separate management plan that outlines how it will handle nuisance bears, hunting seasons and regulations. Bears that remain inside the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park will continue to be managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and cannot be hunted unless they leave the park boundary.
It’s important to note that Idaho has another population of grizzlies in the northern Idaho Panhandle that is still at risk of extinction and needs the protection of the ESA.
A Recovered Population?
By 1975, only an estimated 136 grizzly remained in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Today that number is estimated to be about 700. This recovery is a tremendous success story that highlights the importance of the Endangered Species Act, dedicated conservation funding and public collaboration. At the same time, the Idaho Conservation League has continued concerns about state management of this species. We will be reviewing the final delisting rule with a critical eye. We will also continue to encourage the state of Idaho to improve its existing management plan for this population of grizzly by requiring mandatory hunter identification and safety courses and by restricting bear baiting, especially in occupied grizzly bear areas.
What You Can Do
Stay tuned for more information and ways to get involved. Meanwhile, you can read up on grizzly bears, the drastic population declines and subsequent protection efforts. If you would like to offer financial support for ICL’s work on this issue, you can make a gift.