Hostile to Large Carnivores

I won’t go into a long (boring) post about my lack of blogging. A move, new job, new home, kids in a new school are the reasons.

I thought I’d jump back into blogging with something controversial. There’s always plenty of fodder when it comes to wildlife management in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem (GYE). The controversy of the day is that the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC), issued a report de-emphasizing the Yellowstone grizzly population’s dependence on whitebark pine nuts as a food source.

A little back ground might be helpful to understand why this is making headlines.

The IGBC is made up of various wildlife biologists as stated on their web page including “representatives from the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Geological Survey and representatives of the state wildlife agencies of Idaho, Montana, Washington and Wyoming. In the interest of international coordination and cooperation, the Canadian Wildlife Service is also represented.”  The IGBC “was formed in 1983 to help ensure recovery of viable grizzly bear populations and their habitat in the lower 48 states through interagency coordination of policy, planning, management, and research.”

In 2007 the Grizzly bear population in the GYE met the requirements for removing the species from the endangered species list, and was, in fact, delisted. However, in 2009 Judge Don Molloy of the Ninth Federal District Court “vacated” the delisting, meaning, the griz was back on the endangered species list.

The main concern listed by Judge Molloy was the lack of scientific evidence of the effect of decreased whitebark pine (WBP) nuts on future bear numbers. (Parts of the GYE have experienced significant declines in whitebark pine due to beetle infestation.) So, here we are four years later and the IGBC has issued its finding regarding the grizzly bears’ dependence on the whitebark pine nut as it relates to the stability of the population in the GYE. Their findings: “whitebark pine decline has had no profound negative effects on grizzly bears at the individual or population level.”

It is expected this will prompt the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to once again review the Yellowstone grizzly bear population as endangered.

Not surprisingly, the rhetoric is at work in the headlines. I thought it interesting (if not entertaining) to compare the headlines on a few organizations’ sites. Can you spot those for and against delisting?

“Agency Reports At Meeting Present Unanimously Good News About Yellowstone Ecosystem Grizzly Bear Recovery Bozeman”- IGBC

“Despite Mounting Threats, Feds Announce Decision to Strip Endangered Species Protections for Yellowstone Grizzlies ” -Center for Biodiversity

Rush to Remove Federal Protections Could Threaten Grizzly Bear Recovery” -Natural Resources Defense Council

I was rather smuggly happy to see a local paper calmly stating “Grizzly delisting may happen in 2014″

I especially enjoyed Louisa Willcox’s (Center for Biodiversity) statement that “The push to drop protection is being driven by states hostile to large carnivores.” Living in Wyoming, I guess that would include me. I didn’t know I was hostile to large carnivores. That would make me hostile to (almost) every one I know.

The IGBC’s report doesn’t do anything about the Grizzly bear’s endangered species status. It only possibly instigates a review by the USFWS, which could then write a new rule, which would likely include continued management guidelines. This process, if unimpeded, would likely take 6 months or more.

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