AMK Sportsman

USFWS Proposes Delisting Grizzlies

Randy11

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http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wi...-end-yellowstone-grizzly-protections-37377431

The federal government is proposing to lift threatened-species protections for hundreds of Yellowstone-area grizzlies, opening the door to future hunts for the fearsome bears across parts of three states for the first time since the 1970s.

The Associated Press obtained details of the proposal in advance of a planned Thursday announcement. It caps a four-decade, government-sponsored effort to rebuild the grizzly population and follows the lifting of protections in recent years for more than a dozen other species, including the gray wolf, brown pelican and flying squirrel.

Hunting within Yellowstone National Park would still be prohibited. But the proposal could allow animals to be taken in surrounding parts of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

"By the time the curtain closes on the Obama administration, we are on track to have delisted more species due to recovery than all previous administrations combined," U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe told the AP. "We've done that because of several decades of hard work, like with the grizzly bear."

Grizzlies once roamed much of North America and came to symbolize the continent's untamed wilderness. Hunters and trappers had nearly wiped them out across most of the Lower 48 states by the late 1800s.

A final decision on the proposal is due within a year. It could come sooner if state wildlife commissioners act quickly to adopt rules on how much hunting is allowed. Those rules are not mandatory under the federal proposal, federal officials said.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock told the AP that the bear population would be responsibly managed by state wildlife officials. The Democrat said if a public hunt for the animals is pursued, it could be done in a way that avoids killing bears that live on the periphery of Yellowstone National Park.

"Yellowstone wildlife is treasured. We understand that. We'll manage them in a way that addresses that sensitivity," Bullock said.

Protections would remain in place for about 1,000 bears in and around Glacier National Park and smaller populations elsewhere in Montana, Idaho and Washington state. Grizzlies are not protected in Alaska, where hunting has long been allowed.

Since grizzlies in the Lower 48 were added to the endangered and threatened species list in 1975, the number in the Yellowstone region increased from 136 animals to an estimated 700 to 1,000 today, according to government researchers.

Yet after years of growth, the grizzly population plateaued in recent years, and some wildlife advocates say it's too soon to allow hunting. Also opposed are dozens of American Indian tribes that view the grizzly as a sacred animal.

Formal consultations between the tribes and the Interior Department are ongoing, although Ashe said the issue is unlikely to be resolved.

Federal and state officials said limits on how many bears can be killed will safeguard against a collapse in the bear population.

If bear numbers drop below 600, intentional killings through hunting and the removal of bears that attack livestock would be prohibited. Exceptions would be made for bears that threaten public safety. More hunting would be allowed when bear numbers increase.

Grizzly numbers rebounded despite declines in some of their key food sources, including cutthroat trout and the nuts of whitebark pine, a high-elevation tree devastated by bark beetles and an invasive fungus.

Environmentalists argue that those declines are good reasons to keep protecting the region's grizzlies. But government-sponsored studies have shown grizzlies are able to adapt easily to different types of food, said Brian Nesvik, wildlife and law enforcement chief for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

The last legal hunts for Yellowstone-area bears happened in the 1970s. The animals were taken off the threatened species list in 2007, but that move was struck down and protections were restored two years later after environmental groups challenged the government in court.

State officials and members of Congress have pointed to the case of the grizzly bear as an example of how the Endangered Species Act needs changes so animals don't linger under federal protections once they are recovered.

Ashe said reforms aren't needed as much as money to help species recover.
 

Randy11

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USFWS Press Release- http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie..._Yellowstone_Grizzly_Bear_Due_To_Recovery.php

LAKEWOOD, Colo. – In response to the successful recovery of one of the nation’s most iconic animals, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) today proposed to remove the grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.

The restoration of the grizzly bear in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho during the last three decades stands as one of America’s great conservation successes—a testament to the value of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the strong partnerships it drives. The Yellowstone grizzly bear population has rebounded from as few as 136 bears in 1975 to an estimated 700 or more today.

“The recovery of the Yellowstone grizzly bear represents a historic success for partnership-driven wildlife conservation under the Endangered Species Act,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “Our proposal today underscores and celebrates more than 30 years of collaboration with our trusted federal, state and tribal partners to address the unique habitat challenges of grizzlies. The final post-delisting management plans by these partners will ensure healthy grizzly populations persist across the Yellowstone ecosystem long into the future.”

To ensure robust monitoring of Yellowstone grizzly bears, balanced management and effective conservation going forward, the Service is also releasing two other documents for public comment, a draft supplement to the 1993 Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan for the Yellowstone grizzly bear population, and a draft conservation strategy. These detail how both grizzly bears and their habitat will be managed in a post-delisting environment.

“Even with this proposed delisting, the Service remains committed to the conservation of the Yellowstone grizzly bear, and will stay engaged to ensure that this incredible species remains recovered,” Ashe said. “We will continue to be part of a strong monitoring program, implementation of the conservation strategy, and partnership with our state and federal partners. We are look forward to hearing from the public about the proposal and consulting with Native American tribes.”

Population and habitat monitoring efforts undertaken by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee Study Team indicate that grizzly bears have more than doubled their range since the mid-1970s. They now occupy more than 22,500 square miles of the Yellowstone ecosystem, an area larger than the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island combined. Stable population numbers for grizzlies for more than a decade also indicate that the Yellowstone ecosystem is at or near its carrying capacity for the bears.

Determining recovery is based on more than just the number of bears in the ecosystem. It includes the quantity and quality of habitat, adequate regulatory mechanisms to maintain a healthy and viable population, and a good balance of male and female bears that are well-distributed throughout the ecosystem.

The proposed rule, and the supporting documents, will publish in a couple days in the Federal Register. The Service will be seeking review and comment by the public, other federal and state agencies, and independent scientists. Comments will be accepted for 60-days after publication. You can submit electronically at http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter Docket Number FWS–R6–ES–2016–0042, and then click on the “Comment Now!” button.

Comments will also be accepted via U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS–R6–ES–2016–0042, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803. Please note that submissions merely supporting or opposing a potential delisting, without supporting documentation, will not be considered in making a determination.

The Service will post all information received on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information that is provided. To view the complete Federal Register notice that publishes, visit http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/es/grizzlyBear.php.

The ESA is an essential tool for conserving the nation’s most at-risk wildlife, as well as the land and water on which they depend for habitat. The ESA has saved more than 99 percent of the species listed from the brink of extinction and has served as the critical safety net for wildlife that Congress intended when it passed the law 40 years ago. The Obama Administration has delisted more species due to recovery than any prior administration, including the Oregon Chub, Virginia northern flying squirrel and brown pelican.
 

Big Fin

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My phone has been on fire this morning, as news of this leaked out. Expect the normal suspects to declare the end of civilization over the fact that we are now awash in grizzly bears, relative to what densities the landscape can support.

Good on the USFWS to stick to their guns and to their commitment to so many in MT, ID, and WY who have spent decades on this topic.


This topic and 15 years of involvement is discussed in great detail in my podcast with Arnie Dood, retired Montana Threatened and Endangered Species coordinator. Link here - https://youtu.be/pIWkn4JjBO0


When the final ruling comes, I hope hunters will get vocal about state management. The USFWS and their biologists have taken more heat on this topic than wolves. They need hunters to support them on this effort. Same with the three governors of MT, ID, and WY. Over many different gubernatorial administrations, covering both parties, the governors have held their ground. As have their game and fish agencies.

My greatest hope is that hunters do not leave these folks hanging out to dry when the "screwballs and wingnuts" come after them. They have stood up for science. They have done a remarkable job against daunting political pressures. We need to stand up for them.
 

BuzzH

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When the final ruling comes, I hope hunters will get vocal about state management.

I hope hunters will be smart, as well as vocal, about state management.

Wyoming doesn't need another failed policy, controlled and dominated by AG interests, like what happened with wolf management.
 

Topgun 30-06

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It will be an us against them (huggers) from the getgo and you can take that to the bank. They will challenge and lose this time because of the great job all the USFWS and state game biologists have done, but they will drag things out through endless appeals and it will be years, rather than months, before any bears are hunted IMHO.
 

Big Fin

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When the final ruling comes, I hope hunters will get vocal about state management.

I hope hunters will be smart, as well as vocal, about state management.

Wyoming doesn't need another failed policy, controlled and dominated by AG interests, like what happened with wolf management.

I would be very surprised if Mead would let that happen. He and his staff are squared away on these issues.

I think some agreements have been made to accommodate hunting, do so according to the Conservation Strategy, yet hopefully prevent a "Cecil" even with one of the many named and followed bear in YNP. As much as I have advocated for hunting to be allowed as part of state management, the last thing we need is one of the "celebrity" bears of YNP to get shot by a hunter. It will set back not just bear hunting, but hunting in general to a degree that makes "Cecil The Lion" look like a single raindrop in a hurricane.

I caution people that there are years when bear hunting will not be allowed, as the plan has a set limit on human caused mortality. If that is exceeded, both for total and the female sub-quota, there will be no bear hunting. And even if it has not been exceeded, the allowed take via hunting will be very small to stay under the human-caused mortality quotas. If I had to guess, I would see WY maybe issuing 2-3 tags per year and MT issuing 1-2 tags per year. Idaho, but such a small part of the recovery zone would be maxed out with 1 tag per year and many years with no tag. Those are just my expectations. I could be completely wrong.

Anyone who might get a tag better be on his/her best behavior. If they shoot a sow with cubs, expect heat like we have never seen before. I commend that states to be working on this issue in their discussions with the USFWS. I can imagine some hunters complaining that hunting is such a small part of bear management, but that has been the plan since the Recovery Plan and Conservation Strategy were adopted.

I look forward to reading the final ruling from the USFWS.
 
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Thanks for the info. I hope the anti-hunting folks will realize as de-listing is not just about hunting. Hunting is but a tool in the overall management strategy. Grizzly bears have reached the level determined by experts to no longer need protection under the ESA and will continue to expand on their own. A handful of bears harvested yearly will have no negative impact on the overall population and may do some good by having bears re-associated to the dangers of conflicts with humans.
 

sbhooper

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Hunting will probably be a non-issue for most of us anyway. It would not surprise me if those permits will go for big money, unless they do what Montana used to do and have quotas with no permit limits.
 

Wally Dog

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It sounds like ID will have 2 zones. One a controlled hunt with 2 tags and no baiting and the other basically a general hunt with max harvest numbers. The non controlled hunt would encompass areas where bear hunters routinely use a bait site.
 

MTGomer

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If there are tags available, perhaps they could find a way to highly incentivize people to only take mature boars?. I know it is too hard to tell the difference, to make it a legal requirement, but mature Boars ar one of the main dangers to grizzly bear cubs. I sure hope there is a hunt, but I sure hope they find a way to manage them for the benefit of the species.
 

Topgun 30-06

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Hunting will probably be a non-issue for most of us anyway. It would not surprise me if those permits will go for big money, unless they do what Montana used to do and have quotas with no permit limits.

Wyoming already has a fee established and I can't find it right now, but it was in the thousands and I mean more that one or two!
 

shootbrownelk

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When the final ruling comes, I hope hunters will get vocal about state management.

I hope hunters will be smart, as well as vocal, about state management.

Wyoming doesn't need another failed policy, controlled and dominated by AG interests, like what happened with wolf management.
Right Buzz, Wyoming AG mouthpiece Magagna screwed up the Wolf issue for us hunters big time. That jerk needs to shut his pie hole for a change, and listen to hunters and the Wyoming G&F. We'd be in with Montana & Idaho and hunting wolves had the AG industry gone along with the other states, instead of declaring the wolves as predators in 3/4 of Wyoming.
 

Ben Lamb

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MT should only have a Rochambeau season for Grizz.

Glad to see this moving forward.
 
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