|The Mountain-Prairie Region|
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
May 25, 1999
Chris Servheen 406-243-4903
U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE TO IMPROVE SCIENTIFIC METHODOLOGY TO ASSESS GRIZZLY BEAR POPULATION IN CABINET YAAK, SELKIRK, AND NORTHERN CONTINENTAL DIVIDE ECOSYSTEMS
As part of a court settlement in 1997 on the grizzly bear recovery plan, findings on five specific issues from the plan were remanded by the court for further consideration. On Friday, May 21, 1999, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provided to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia updated and additional information on five specific grizzly bear issues, including mortalities relating to livestock interactions, monitoring of genetic isolation effects, population monitoring methods, reliance on Canada and impacts of disease.
In order to update the information and obtain current data, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asked for public comments and additional information on these issues. As a result of recent studies and comments received since the 1993 recovery plan was written, the Service will work to improve its scientific methodology to assess grizzly bear populations in the Cabinet Yaak, Selkirk, and Northern Continental Divide ecosystems. This includes improved methods to monitor grizzly populations in a cost-effective and credible way, estimate the number of grizzly bears, improve collection and handling of sightings of females with cubs, work with agency partners to recalculate the known/unknown human-caused mortality ratio and work to better estimate sightability of bears in all ecosystems.
The Service and agency partners are investigating new methods to estimate total population size in the Yellowstone ecosystem. After scientific peer review, the Service will use these methods to estimate total population size and set the sustainable mortality limit for grizzlies in the Yellowstone ecosystem.
As part of ongoing grizzly bear recovery efforts, biologists with the Service will cooperate with Canadian grizzly bear management programs to monitor grizzly populations and habitat management in Canada. The Service will also continue to coordinate habitat protection programs designed to designate and protect important linkages between grizzly bear populations in the United States and Canada.
The Service will add additional tasks in the recovery plan to monitor any changes in genetic diversity within and between populations and will describe responses that should occur if significant reductions in genetic diversity are detected.
Nothing specific was determined as needed on the topic of disease as no evidence of chronic or widespread disease in grizzly bears examined through 1998 has appeared. Detailed monitoring of bears for any possible disease continues by wildlife laboratories of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department in Bozeman and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in Laramie.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprising more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries 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 wildlife agencies.
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