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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

October 22, 2001

Mark Pfeifle 202-208-6416 (DOI)
Sharon Rose 303-236-7917, x415 (FWS)

PUBLIC COMMENT ANALYSIS NOW AVAILABLE ON
BITTERROOT GRIZZLY BEAR PROPOSAL

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a preliminary analysis today of public comments received on its proposal to withdraw a decision to reintroduce grizzly bears into the Bitterroot ecosystem in Montana and Idaho and focus recovery efforts on the five existing populations in the lower 48 states.

The proposal drew 28,222 comments from 50 states and 19 countries, the majority of which opposed the Serviceís proposal.

The Service will review the public comments -- and in particular evaluate any new biological information they may contain -- as part of the Department of the Interiorís final decision-making process on grizzly bear reintroduction.

The Service announced in June the proposal to focus recovery efforts on the approximately 1,100 grizzly bears in the lower 48 States, which are divided in five separate populations in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Washington. Under the proposal, biologists would continue actions to conserve and recover grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem, where a grizzly population of 400 to 600 bears is increasing two to four percent annually, and in the Northern Continental Divide ecosystem, where grizzly populations are stable or increasing and number 400 to 500 bears. The Service also would refocus recovery efforts and methods to preserve and increase populations in the Selkirk ecosystem where there are 40 to 50 bears; the Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem, with 30 to 40 bears; and the Northern Cascade ecosystem where there are approximately 5 bears.

The public was invited to comment for 60 days on the proposal. Responses were received in the form of letters or postcards, form letters, petitions, and e-mail messages. In analyzing the comments, the Service is using a standard method of categorizing each personís comments into separate subjects and categories, then grouping like categories together. This allows for a more thorough examination of the comments.

A demographic summary of respondents is included in the analysis. This analysis can be found in its entirety on Serviceís web site at (mountain-prairie.fws.gov/species/mammals/grizzly).

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses more than 535 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

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