3in; TEXT-INDENT: -3in Hugh Vickery
3in; TEXT-INDENT: -3in 202-501-4633
3 ; TEXT-INDENT: -3 Sharon Rose (FWS)
3 ; TEXT-INDENT: -3 303-236-4580
After three decades of successful conservation efforts involving federal and state agencies and many other partners, the greater Yellowstone population of grizzly bears has recovered and no longer needs the protection of the Endangered Species Act, Interior Secretary Gale Norton announced today.
As a result, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to remove the Yellowstone population from the list of threatened and endangered species. 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.
"When it was listed in 1975, this majestic animal that greeted Lewis and Clark on their historic expedition stood at risk of disappearing from the American West," Norton said. "Thanks to the work of many partners, more than 600 grizzlies now inhabit the Yellowstone ecosystem and the population is no longer threatened."
"With a comprehensive conservation strategy ready to be put into place upon delisting, we are confident that the future of the grizzly bear in Yellowstone is bright," she said. "Our grandchildrens grandchildren will see grizzly bears roaming Yellowstone ."
Grizzly bears in the Yellowstone area have made a remarkable recovery in the past three decades. When the species was listed, only 220 to 320 bears remained in the ecosystem, and these animals were jeopardized by loss of habitat and high mortality from conflict with humans. Cooperation, consultation and communication among numerous federal and state agencies, non-government organizations, local governments and citizens have reversed the trend.
Since the mid 1990s, the Yellowstone population has grown at a rate of 4 percent to 7 percent per year. 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.
In 1973 - two years prior to the bears addition to the threatened species list - scientists at various federal agencies formed a grizzly bear scientific study team. The team currently consists of scientists involved in grizzly bear recovery from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, the USDA-Forest Service, the state wildlife agencies in Idaho , Montana and Wyoming and several universities. This science team has developed protocols and techniques to monitor grizzly bear populations and habitat and to document the status of the grizzly bear population.
Later, in 1983, these agencies formed the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, also including the state of Washington, the Bureau of Land Management, province of British Columbia and the province of Alberta .
In addition, the team developed a conservation strategy for future management of the Yellowstone population and its habitat should the species be delisted. The strategy incorporates the best available science and establishes an adaptive management framework that allows the Service and its partners to adjust management guidelines in response to new scientific information and/or environmental and population changes. State and federal managers will continue to work cooperatively under this framework to manage and maintain healthy grizzly bear populations throughout the Greater Yellowstone area into the foreseeable future.
The proposal to delist the Yellowstone population of grizzly bears will be published in the Federal Register on Thursday, November 17. The proposal and more information about todays announcement can be found at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/species/mammals/grizzly/yellowstone.htm.
The public can submit comments on the proposal to: Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, University Hall 309, University of Montana , Missoula , Montana 59812 . Comments can also be sent by electronic mail to FW6_grizzly_yellowstone@fws.gov. All comments must be received by
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