Wyoming Senators Cynthia Lummis and John Barrasso have stepped up as a tri-state coalition and four US Senators jump into the fight to delist the more than recovered grizzly bear.
The grizzly bear delisting saga continues in the northern Rocky Mountain states. A new development has in fact arose as of late with a recent collaboration between the states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho along with a coalition from Federal legislators in said states that places a bit more muscle and credibility behind the ongoing effort to delist the overpopulated predator in the region. A democratic federal administration will more than likely make this possibility nearly impossible, however it looks like the states of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho are poised to make another run at a grizzly bear delisting in the next few months. A process that will neither be easy nor quick.
The primary goal is for the states to regain control of the bears outside the scope of the protections encompassed within the confines of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The state of Wyoming in particular has aggressively engaged in this process for the better part of two decades with no avail as court case after court case has shut the effort down even after the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service themselves have agreed with the release of the species as “recovered”. All the while the population of bears in and around the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has continued to expand well beyond the carrying capacity for the predator causing massive wildlife management issues and conflicts.
The primary complaint or reason for the Montana judge and an appeals court panel to reject the move to “delist” was based on the risk of a lack of genetic diversity related to connectivity within the region’s bear populations. This new memorandum of understanding, which has yet to be agreed to fully by the states of Idaho and Montana, would create an agreement or pact between the states to open up the possibility of embarking on a relocation program between the not quite connected current populations throughout the states. Essentially, genetically connecting the Yellowstone bears with the Glacier bears in an effort to create a larger and more blended genetic pool in both regions. Basically, a good old fashioned bear swap.
As a side note, the state of Montana has also recently begun to move forward with the process of a potential removal of the grizzly bear in the Glacier National Park region of Montana from the ESA as well. Northwest Montana is now experiencing many of the same negative effects and problems of an overpopulated grizzly bear population that we have witnessed in northwest Wyoming.