Press Release – The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced today that grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) have sufficiently recovered and will be returned to state management. There are approximately 700 bears in the GYE which includes Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Governor Matt Mead praised the decision.
“Grizzly bears have met or exceeded recovery objectives since 2003 and have long warranted delisting. In 2013, I asked Secretary Salazar to delist the grizzly bears and much work toward this end has been done. I appreciate that the FWS is proceeding now with the delisting,” Governor Mead said. “The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, which includes the FWS and Wyoming Game and Fish, must be commended for its years of great work. Thanks to the team effort, grizzlies will be managed appropriately by our experts at Game and Fish. I thank all involved in the delisting effort.”
A brief history follows. In 2007, the FWS delisted grizzly bears in the GYE. A federal judge reinstated protections in 2009 after finding that the FWS did not adequately consider the impacts of the decline of whitebark pine nuts – a grizzly bear food source. In 2013, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team determined that the reduction in whitebark pine nuts did not significantly impact grizzly bears and again recommended delisting. In March 2016, the FWS published a draft rule to delist grizzly bears in the GYE. States gave additional assurance regarding long-term viability. Wyoming has adopted a Grizzly Bear Management Plan outlining how management will occur after the bears are delisted. That document is available on the Game and Fish website.