Grizzly bear sow and cubs

State grizzly plans “intentionally managing for a decline”

Greater Yellowstone Coalition executive director Caroline Byrd has written a strongly worded op-ed piece in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. In it she remarks that the states are “intentionally managing for a decline of grizzlies” and “will turn a remarkable 40-year recovery process and $40 million investment into a failure.”

Wyoming Wildlife Advocates agrees.

WWA’s Kent Nelson says “Sloppy planning and drafting, inadequate safeguards and oversight, and a clear tendency to succumb to political pressure — on both the state and federal levels — characterize the delisting process and threaten the recovery of grizzlies.”

“They have had ten years since their last attempt at delisting to get it right, and both the states and the feds have blown it, and as a result the bears will be more vulnerable after delisting than they’ve been in years.”

So far the proposed plans are troubling. If you look at the numbers, a disturbing picture emerges: the grizzly bear population is set up to stair-step downwards, with the states intentionally managing for a decline. – Caroline Byrd

Byrd also considers the causes of the recent record levels of human-caused grizzly deaths and argues that “These avoidable incidents are killing too many bears. In this context, any talk of hunting grizzlies — adding another way for bears to die — is inappropriate.”

Byrd’s op-ed appears on the heels of the first skirmish in the impending legal battle over delisting. Delisting opponents (including a member of WWA’s board of directors) have filed a lawsuit against the state of Wyoming for failing to follow legally mandated procedures for public notice and comment — in effect accusing the states of neglecting procedure in their rush to delist.

WWA’s conclusion is that the states, and especially Wyoming, not only want to reduce the population of grizzlies from present levels but want to push them back into the box from whence they came, that is; back into the parks to the extent they think they can legally get away with. Despite wildlife managers repeated claims that they will manage conservatively, everything in the plans and the MOA suggests a dismal future for bears outside the parks.

Byrd’s op-ed is here