|The Mountain-Prairie Region|
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
February 15, 2006
Contact: Chris Servheen 406-243-4903
PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD EXTENDED UNTIL MARCH 20 FOR THE U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE’S PROPOSAL TO DELIST THE YELLOWSTONE POPULATION OF GRIZZLY BEARS
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service extended the public comment period for the Service’s proposal to remove the Yellowstone population of grizzly bears from the list of threatened and endangered wildlife as it no longer needs the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Robust population growth, coupled with State and Federal cooperation to manage mortality and habitat, widespread public support for grizzly bear recovery, and the development of adequate regulatory mechanisms has brought about recovery for the grizzly bears in this area, necessitating a change in its status.
Four other grizzly populations in the lower 48 states have not yet recovered and will continue to be protected as threatened species under the Act.
Public comments are encouraged and will be accepted until close of business on March 20, 2006. Written comments may be sent to the Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, University Hall 309, University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812. Comments may also be hand delivered to the same office. Comments may be sent by electronic mail (e-mail) to FW6_grizzly_yellowstone@fws.gov.
As part of the Service’s proposal, a distinct population segment of grizzlies in the greater Yellowstone area is to be established. Biologists believe the Yellowstone area grizzly population and other remaining grizzly bear populations in the lower 48 states and Canada are markedly separate from each other, with no evidence of interaction with other populations. The core of the proposed Yellowstone distinct population segment is the Yellowstone Recovery Zone, which is approximately 9,200 square miles. It includes Yellowstone National Park; a portion of Grand Teton National Park; John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway; sizable contiguous portions of the Shoshone, Bridger-Teton, Targhee, Gallatin, Beaverhead-Deerlodge and Custer National Forests; BLM lands; and surrounding State and private lands.
Since the mid 1990s, the Yellowstone population has grown at a rate of 4 percent to 7 percent per year. More than 600 grizzlies now inhabit the Yellowstone ecosystem. Grizzlies have occupied 48 percent more habitat since they were listed, and biologists have sighted bears more than 60 miles from what was once thought to be the outer limits of their range.
The recovery of grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem is the result of intensive scientific research, state and federal cooperation to manage habitat and limit mortality, and the implementation of regulatory protections over more than three decades.
Grizzly bears are long-lived mammals and generally live to be around 25 years old. They are generally larger and more heavily built than other bears. They can be distinguished from black bears by longer, curved claws, humped shoulders and a face that appears to be concave.
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 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 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 and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
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