[Federal Register: November 17, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 221)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 69853-69884]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 69853]]


Part III

Department of the Interior


Fish and Wildlife Service


50 CFR Part 17

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designating the Greater 
Yellowstone Ecosystem Population of Grizzly Bears as a Distinct 
Population Segment; Removing the Yellowstone Distinct Population 
Segment of Grizzly Bears From the Federal List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife; Proposed Rule

[[Page 69854]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AT38

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designating the 
Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Population of Grizzly Bears as a Distinct 
Population Segment; Removing the Yellowstone Distinct Population 
Segment of Grizzly Bears From the Federal List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; notice of public hearing.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to 
establish a distinct population segment (DPS) of the grizzly bear 
(Ursus arctos horribilis) for the greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and 
surrounding area. We also propose to remove the Yellowstone DPS from 
the List of Threatened and Endangered Wildlife. The Yellowstone grizzly 
bear population is no longer an endangered or threatened population 
pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA), based 
on the best scientific and commercial information available. 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 the Yellowstone grizzly bear population to the point where 
making a change to its status is appropriate.
    The proposed delisting of the Yellowstone DPS would not change the 
threatened status of the remaining grizzly bears in the lower 48 
States, which will remain protected by the ESA. If this proposed action 
is finalized, the Service intends to initiate a 5-year review of 
grizzly bear populations in the conterminous States outside of the 
Yellowstone DPS based on additional scientific information that is 
currently being collected and analyzed. Additionally, prior to 
finalizing the proposed action, the Service will--(1) finalize the 
Conservation Strategy that will guide post-delisting management of the 
grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Area; (2) append habitat-based 
recovery criteria to the Recovery Plan; (3) append genetic monitoring 
information to the Recovery Plan; and (4) finalize revised methodology 
for calculating total population size, known to unknown mortality 
ratios, and sustainable mortality limits for the Yellowstone grizzly 
bear population. Both the Conservation Strategy and the supplemental 
information to be appended to the Recovery Plan have already undergone 
public review and comment (62 FR 19777, April 23, 1997; 62 FR 47677, 
September 10, 1997; 64 FR 38464, July 16, 1999; 64 FR 38465, July 16, 
1999; 65 FR 11340, March 2, 2000). In a subsequent notice, the revised 
methodology pertaining to population parameters will be made available 
for public review and comment. It will be finalized, with public 
comments incorporated, before this proposed rule is finalized. Finally, 
the U.S. Forest Service will finalize their Forest Plan Amendments for 
Grizzly Bear Conservation for the Greater Yellowstone Area National 
Forests prior to the Service finalizing this action.

DATES: We will consider comments on this proposed rule received until 
the close of business on February 15, 2006. We will hold one public 
hearing on this proposed rule scheduled hearing for November 15, 2005. 
In addition, we have scheduled four open houses (see ADDRESSES section 
for locations).

ADDRESSES: If you wish to comment, you may submit your comments and 
materials concerning this proposal by any one of several methods:
    1. You may submit written comments to the Grizzly Bear Recovery 
Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, University Hall 309, 
University of Montana, Missoula, Montana 59812.
    2. You may hand deliver written comments to our Missoula office at 
the address given above.
    3. You may send comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to 
FW6_grizzly_yellowstone@fws.gov. See the Public Comments Solicited section 

below for file format and other information about electronic filing.
    Comments and materials received, as well as supporting 
documentation used in preparation of this proposed action, will be 
available for inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours, 
at our Missoula office (see address above). In addition, certain 
documents such as the Conservation Strategy and information to be 
appended to the recovery plan are available at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/species/mammals/grizzly/yellowstone.htm

    The public hearing will be held at the following location:
     January 10, 2006, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Cody Auditorium, 
1240 Beck Avenue, Cody Wyoming.
    The open houses will be held at the following locations:
     January 9, 2006, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Holiday Inn, 5 
Baxter Lane, Bozeman, Montana.
     January 10, 2006, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Cody Auditorium, 
1240 Beck Avenue, Cody Wyoming.
     January 11, 2006, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Snow King 
Resort, 400 E. Snow King Avenue, Jackson, Wyoming.
     January 12, 2006, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Shilo Inn, 780 
Lindsay Boulevard, Idaho Falls, Idaho.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Christopher Servheen, Grizzly Bear 
Recovery Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at our Missoula 
office (see address above) or telephone (406) 243-4903.



Species Description

    Grizzly bears are generally larger and more heavily built than 
other bears (Craighead and Mitchell 1982; Schwartz et al. 2003a). 
Grizzly bears can be distinguished from black bears, which also occur 
in the lower 48 States, by longer, curved claws, humped shoulders, and 
a face that appears to be concave (Craighead and Mitchell 1982). A wide 
range of coloration from light brown to nearly black is common (LeFranc 
et al. 1987). Spring shedding, new growth, nutrition, and coat 
condition all affect coloration. Guard hairs (long, course outer hair 
forming a protective layer over the soft underfur) are often pale in 
color at the tips; hence the name ``grizzly'' (Craighead and Mitchell 
1982). In the lower 48 States, the average weight of grizzly bears is 
generally 200 to 300 kilograms (kg) (400 to 600 pounds (lb)) for males 
and 110 to 160 kg (250 to 350 lb) for females (Craighead and Mitchell 
1982). Grizzly bears are long-lived mammals, generally living to be 
around 25 years old (LeFranc et al. 1987).


    Grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) are vertebrates that belong 
to the Class Mammalia, Order Carnivora, and Family Ursidae. The grizzly 
bear is a member of the brown bear species (U. arctos) that occurs in 
North America, Europe, and Asia; the subspecies U. a. horribilis is 
limited to North America (Rausch 1963; Servheen 1999). Early taxonomic 
descriptions of U. arctos based primarily on skull measurements 
described more than 90 subspecies (Merriam 1918), but this was later 
revised to 2 subspecies in North America, U. a. middendorfi on the 
islands of the Kodiak archipelago and U. a. horribilis in the rest of 
North America

[[Page 69855]]

(Rausch 1963). Subsequent analyses (Hall 1984) suggested seven North 
American subspecies. DNA analyses provide an additional tool for 
evaluating taxonomic classification. Using mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of 
brown bears across their worldwide range, five lineage groups or clades 
have been described: Clade I brown bears from Scandinavia and southern 
Europe; Clade II from Admiralty, Baronoff, and Chichagof islands in 
Alaska; Clade III from eastern Europe, Asia, and western Alaska; Clade 
IV from southern Canada and the lower 48 United States; and Clade V 
from eastern Alaska and northern Canada (Cronin et al. 1991; Taberlet 
and Bouvet 1994; Kohn et al. 1995; Randi et al. 1994; Taberlet et al. 
1995; Talbot and Shields 1996; Waits et al. 1998a; Waits et al. 1999). 
The two North American subspecies approach of Rausch (1963) is 
generally accepted by most taxonomists today. The original listing has 
been inadvertently modified in the List of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife to U. arctos and the range to holarctic. We propose to correct 
this error to reflect the original listed entity of U. arctos 
horribilis with a historic range of North America.


    Although adult bears are normally solitary (Nowak and Paradiso 
1983), home ranges of adult bears frequently overlap (Schwartz et al. 
2003a). Grizzly bears display a behavior called natal philopatry in 
which dispersing young establish home ranges within or overlapping 
their mother's (Waser and Jones 1983; Schwartz et al. 2003a). This type 
of movement makes dispersal across landscapes a slow process. For 
instance, McLellan and Hovey (2001) documented male and female 
dispersal over 20 years and found that grizzly bears gradually move 
farther from the center of their mother's home range over the course of 
1 to 4 years. Females established home ranges an average of 9.8 
kilometers (km) (6.1 miles (mi)) away from the center of their mother's 
home range, whereas males generally strayed further, establishing home 
ranges roughly 29.9 km (18.6 mi) away from their mother's (McLellan and 
Hovey 2001). Similarly, Proctor et al. (2004) used genetic analyses to 
find that, on average, females disperse only 14.3 km (8.9 mi) and males 
disperse 42.0 km (26.0 mi) from the center of their mother's home 
    The home range of adult male grizzly bears is typically 3 to 5 
times the size of an adult female's home range (LeFranc et al. 1987). 
The large home ranges of grizzly bears, particularly males, enhance 
genetic diversity in the population by enabling males to mate with 
numerous females (Blanchard and Knight 1991; Craighead et al. 1995). 
Grizzly bear population densities of 1 bear per 20 sq km (8 sq mi) have 
been reported in Glacier National Park (Martinka 1976), but most 
populations in the lower 48 States are much less dense (LeFranc et al. 
1987). For example, estimates of grizzly bear densities in the 
Yellowstone area range from one bear per 50 sq km (20 sq mi) to one 
bear per 80 sq km (30 sq mi) (Blanchard and Knight 1980; Craighead and 
Mitchell 1982).
    Grizzly bears have a promiscuous mating system (Hornocker 1962; 
Craighead and Mitchell 1982; Schwartz et al. 2003a) with genetic 
studies confirming that cubs from the same litter can have different 
fathers (Craighead et al. 1998). Mating occurs from May through July 
with a peak in mid-June (Craighead and Mitchell 1982; Nowak and 
Paradiso 1983). Age of first reproduction and litter size may be 
related to nutritional state (Stringham 1990; McLellan 1994; 
Hilderbrand et al. 1999). Age of first reproduction varies from 3 to 8 
years of age, and litter size varies from one to four cubs (Schwartz et 
al. 2003a). For the Yellowstone grizzly bear population, the average 
age of first reproduction is approximately 6 years old, and the average 
litter size is 2.04 cubs (Schwartz et al. 2005). Cubs are born in a den 
in late January or early February and remain with the female for 2 to 3 
years before the mother will again mate and produce another litter 
(Schwartz et al. 2003a). Grizzly bears have one of the slowest 
reproductive rates among terrestrial mammals, resulting primarily from 
the late age of first reproduction, small average litter size, and the 
long interval between litters (Nowak and Paradiso 1983; Schwartz et al. 
2003a). Given the above factors and natural mortality, it may take a 
single female 10 years to replace herself in a population (Service 
1993). Grizzly bear females cease breeding successfully some time in 
their mid-to late 20s (Schwartz et al. 2003b).
    For 3 to 6 months during winter, grizzly bears across their range 
enter dens in an adaptive behavior which increases survival during 
periods of low food availability, deep snow, and low air temperature 
(Craighead and Craighead 1972). Grizzly bears in the lower 48 States 
spend up to 4 to 6 months in dens beginning in October or November 
(Linnell et al. 2000). During this period, they do not eat, drink, 
urinate, or defecate (Folk et al. 1976; Nelson 1980). Hibernating 
grizzly bears exhibit a marked decline in heart and respiration rate, 
but only a slight drop in body temperature (Nowak and Paradiso 1983). 
Due to their relatively constant body temperature in the den, 
hibernating grizzly bears can be easily aroused and have been known to 
exit dens when disturbed by seismic or mining activity (Harding and 
Nagy 1980) or by human activity (Swenson et al. 1997). Both males and 
females have a tendency to use the same general area year after year 
but the same exact den is rarely used twice by an individual (Schoen et 
al. 1987; Linnell et al. 2000). Females display stronger area fidelity 
than males and generally stay in their dens longer, depending on 
reproductive status (Judd et al. 1986; Schoen et al. 1987; Linnell et 
al. 2000).
    In preparation for hibernation, bears increase their food intake 
dramatically during a stage called hyperphagia. Hyperphagia is defined 
simply as overeating (in excess of daily metabolic demands) and occurs 
throughout the 2 to 4 months prior to den entry. During hyperphagia, 
excess food is deposited as fat, and grizzly bears may gain as much as 
1.65 kg/day (3.64 lb/day) (Craighead and Mitchell 1982). Grizzly bears 
must consume foods rich in protein and carbohydrates in order to build 
up fat reserves to survive denning and post-denning periods (Rode and 
Robbins 2000). These layers of fat are crucial to the hibernating bear 
as they provide a source of energy and insulate the bear from cold 
temperatures and are equally important in providing energy to the bear 
upon emergence from the den when food is still sparse relative to 
metabolic requirements.
    Although the digestive system of bears is essentially that of a 
carnivore, bears are successful omnivores, and in some areas may be 
almost entirely herbivorous (Jacoby et al. 1999; Schwartz et al. 
2003a). Grizzly bears are opportunistic feeders and will consume almost 
any available food including living or dead mammals or fish, and, 
sometimes, garbage (Knight et al. 1988; Mattson et al. 1991a; Schwartz 
et al. 2003a). In areas where animal matter is less available, grasses, 
roots, bulbs, tubers, and fungi may be important in meeting protein 
requirements (LeFranc et al. 1987). High-quality foods such as berries, 
nuts, insects, and fish are important in some areas (Schwartz et al. 
    The search for food has a prime influence on grizzly bear 
movements. In the Yellowstone area, four food sources have been 
identified as important to grizzly bear survival and reproductive 
success (Mattson et al. 2002). Winter-killed ungulates serve as an 
important food source in early spring before most vegetation is 
available (Greene et al.

[[Page 69856]]

1997; Mattson 1997). During early summer, spawning cutthroat trout 
(Oncorhynchus clarki) are a source of nutrition for grizzly bears in 
the Yellowstone population (Mattson et al. 1991a; Mattson and Reinhart 
1995; Felicetti et al. 2004). Grizzly bears feed on army cutworm moths 
(Euxoa auxiliaris) during late summer and early fall as they try to 
acquire sufficient fat levels for winter (Pritchard and Robbins 1990; 
Mattson et al. 1991b; French et al. 1994). Lastly, whitebark pine seeds 
(Pinus albicaulis) serve as a crucial fall food due to their high fat 
content and abundance as a pre-hibernation food (Mattson and Reinhart 
1994). The distribution and abundance of these grizzly bear foods vary 
naturally among seasons and years. In some years, whitebark pine seeds 
are an important food and in other years, few seeds are available and 
bears switch to alternate foods.
    On average, approximately 79 percent of the diet of adult male and 
45 percent of the diet of adult female grizzly bears in the Greater 
Yellowstone Area (GYA) is terrestrial meat (Jacoby et al. 1999). In 
contrast, in Glacier National Park, over 95 percent of the diets of 
both adult male and female grizzly bears is vegetation (Jacoby et al. 
1999). Ungulates rank as the second highest source of net digestible 
energy available to grizzly bears in the GYA (Mealey 1975; Pritchard 
and Robbins 1990; Craighead et al. 1995). Ungulates provide a high-
quality food source in early spring before most plant foods become 
available. Grizzly bears with home ranges in areas with few plant foods 
depend extensively on ungulate meat (Harting 1985). Grizzly bears in 
the Yellowstone area feed on ungulates primarily as winter-killed 
carrion from March through May although they also depredate elk calves 
for a short period in early June (Gunther and Renkin 1990; Green et al. 
1997; Mattson 1997). Carcass availability fluctuates with winter 
severity because fewer ungulates die during mild winters.
    Due to their high digestibility and protein and lipid content, 
spawning cutthroat trout are one of the highest sources of digestible 
energy available to bears during early summer in Yellowstone National 
Park (Mealey 1975; Pritchard and Robbins 1990). Grizzly bears are known 
to prey on cutthroat trout in at least 36 different streams tributary 
to Yellowstone Lake (Reinhart and Mattson 1990). From 1997 to 1999, 
Haroldson et al. (2000) identified 85 different grizzly bears that had 
likely fished spawning streams tributary to Yellowstone Lake. While 
importance varies by season and year, few bears develop a dependence on 
this food source. Only four individuals visited spawning streams 
consistently every year, suggesting that this resource is used 
opportunistically. Fishing activity can occur any time during the 
spawning runs but generally coincides with peak spawning numbers in 
mid-June through mid-July. In contrast to earlier studies which used 
different assumptions and methods (Reinhart and Mattson 1990; Mattson 
and Reinhart 1995), Felicetti et al. (2004) showed that male grizzly 
bears are the primary consumers of cutthroat trout, accounting for 92 
percent of all trout consumed by Yellowstone grizzly bears.
    Alpine moth aggregations are an important food source for a 
considerable portion of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population 
(Mattson et al. 1991b). As many as 35 different grizzly bears with 
cubs-of-the-year have been observed feeding at moth sites in a single 
season (Ternent and Haroldson 2000). Some bears may feed almost 
exclusively on moths for a period of over 1 month (French et al. 1994). 
Moths have the highest caloric content per gram of any other bear food 
(French et al. 1994). Moths are available during late summer and early 
fall when bears consume large quantities of foods in order to acquire 
sufficient fat levels for winter (Mattson et al. 1991b). A grizzly bear 
feeding extensively on moths over a 30-day period may consume up to 47 
percent of its annual energy budget of 960,000 calories (White et al. 
1999). Moths are also valuable to bears because they are located in 
remote areas, thereby reducing the potential for grizzly bear/human 
conflicts during the late-summer tourist months.
    Due to their high fat content and potential abundance as a pre-
hibernation food, whitebark pine seeds are an important fall food for 
bears in the GYA (Mattson and Jonkel 1990; Mattson et al. 1991a). 
Yellowstone grizzly bears consume whitebark pine seeds extensively when 
whitebark cones are available. Bears may feed predominantly on 
whitebark pine seeds when production exceeds 22 cones per tree (Mattson 
et al. 1992). During years of low whitebark pine seed availability, 
grizzly bears often seek alternate foods at lower elevations in 
association with human activities (Mattson et al. 1992; Knight and 
Blanchard 1995; Gunther et al. 1997, 2004).
    The production and availability of these four major foods can have 
a positive effect on reproduction and survival rates of Yellowstone 
grizzly bears (Mattson et al. 2002). For example, during years when 
these food sources are abundant, there are few grizzly bear/human 
conflicts in the GYA (Mattson et al. 1992; Gunther et al. 1997; Gunther 
et al. 2004). Grizzly bear/human conflicts are incidents in which bears 
kill or injure people, damage property, kill or injure livestock, 
damage beehives, obtain anthropogenic foods, or damage or obtain garden 
and orchard fruits and vegetables (United States Department of 
Agriculture (USDA) 1986). In contrast, during years when there are 
shortages of natural food sources, grizzly bear/human conflicts are 
more frequent, resulting in higher numbers of human-caused grizzly bear 
mortalities due to defense of life or property and management removals 
of nuisance bears (Mattson et al. 1992; Gunther et al. 2004). A 
nuisance bear is one that seeks human food in human use areas, kills 
lawfully present livestock, or displays unnatural aggressive behavior 
towards people (USDA 1986). Introduced organisms (e.g., white pine 
blister rust and lake trout), habitat loss, and other human activities 
can negatively impact the quantity and distribution of these four 
primary foods (Reinhart et al. 2001). The effects of invasive species 
on food supply and human/bear conflict are discussed in more detail in 
the five factor analysis.


    Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the grizzly bear occurred 
throughout the western half of the contiguous United States, central 
Mexico, western Canada, and most of Alaska (Roosevelt 1907; Wright 
1909; Merriam 1922; Storer and Tevis 1955; Rausch 1963; Herrero 1972; 
Mattson et al. 1995; Schwartz et al. 2003a). Pre-settlement population 
levels for the western contiguous United States were believed to be in 
the range of 50,000 animals (Servheen 1999). With European settlement 
of the American west, grizzly bears were shot, poisoned, and trapped 
wherever they were found, and the resulting range and population 
declines were dramatic (Roosevelt 1907; Wright 1909; Storer and Tevis 
1955; Leopold 1967; Koford 1969; Craighead and Mitchell 1982; Mattson 
et al. 1995). The range and numbers of grizzlies were reduced to less 
than 2 percent of their former range and numbers by the 1930s, 
approximately 125 years after first contact (Service 1993; Mattson et 
al. 1995; Servheen 1999). Of 37 grizzly populations present in 1922, 31 
were extirpated by 1975 (Servheen 1999).
    By the 1950s, with little or no conservation effort or management 
directed at maintaining grizzly bears anywhere in their range, the 
Yellowstone area population had been reduced in numbers and was 
restricted largely to the confines of Yellowstone

[[Page 69857]]

National Park and some surrounding areas (Craighead et al. 1995; 
Schwartz et al. 2003a). High grizzly bear mortality in 1970 and 1971, 
following closure of the open-pit dumps in Yellowstone National Park 
(Gunther 1994; Craighead et al. 1995), and concern about grizzly 
population status throughout its remaining range prompted the 1975 
listing of the grizzly bear as a threatened species in the lower 48 
States under the ESA (40 FR 31734). When the grizzly bear was listed in 
1975, the population estimate in the Yellowstone Ecosystem ranged from 
229 (Craighead et al. 1974) to 312 (Cowan et al. 1974; McCullough 1981) 
    In 1981, the Service hired a grizzly bear recovery coordinator to 
direct recovery efforts and to coordinate all agency efforts on 
research and management of grizzly bears in the lower 48 States. In 
1982, the first Grizzly bear recovery plan was completed (Service 
1982). The 1982 Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan identified five ecosystems 
within the conterminous United States thought to support grizzly bears. 
Today, grizzly bear distribution is primarily within, but not limited 
to, the areas identified as Recovery Zones (Service 1993), including 
the Yellowstone area in northwest Wyoming, eastern Idaho, and southwest 
Montana (24,000 sq km (9,200 sq mi)) at more than 580 bears 
(Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (Study Team) 2005); the Northern 
Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) of north central Montana (25,000 sq 
km (9,600 sq mi)) at more than 400 bears (70 FR 24870; May 11, 2005); 
the North Cascades area of north central Washington (25,000 sq km 
(9,500 sq mi)) at less than 20 bears (Almack et al. 1993); the Selkirk 
Mountains area of north Idaho, northeast Washington, and southeast 
British Columbia (5,700 sq km (2,200 sq mi)) at approximately 40 to 50 
bears (64 FR 26725, May 17, 1999; 70 FR 24870, May 11, 2005); and the 
Cabinet-Yaak area of northwest Montana and northern Idaho (6,700 sq km 
(2,600 sq mi)) at approximately 30 to 40 bears (Kasworm and Manley 
1988; Kasworm et al. 2004). There is an additional Recovery Zone known 
as the Bitterroot Recovery Zone in the Bitterroot Mountains of east-
central Idaho and western Montana (14,500 sq km (5,600 sq mi)), but 
this area does not contain any grizzly bears at this time (Service 
1996; 65 FR 69624, November 17, 2000; Service 2000). The San Juan 
Mountains of Colorado also were identified as an area of possible 
grizzly bear occurrence (40 FR 31734, July 28, 1975; Service 1982, 
1993), but no evidence of grizzly bears has been found in the San Juan 
Mountains since a bear was killed there in 1979 (Service 1993).
    In the initial Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan, the Yellowstone Grizzly 
Bear Ecosystem, later called the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Recovery 
Zone, was defined as an area large enough and of sufficient habitat 
quality to support a recovered grizzly bear population within which the 
population and habitat would be monitored (Service 1982, 1993). A 
revised Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan (Service 1993) included additional 
tasks and new information that increased the focus and effectiveness of 
recovery efforts.
    Grizzly bear recovery has required cooperation among numerous 
Federal agencies, State agencies, non-government organizations (NGOs), 
local governments, and citizens. In recognition that grizzly bear 
populations were unsustainably low, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study 
Team (hereafter referred to as the Study Team) was created in 1973 to 
provide detailed scientific information for the management and recovery 
of the grizzly bear in the Yellowstone area. Currently, members of the 
Study Team include scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), 
U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the Service, academia, and each State game 
and fish agency involved in grizzly bear recovery. The Study Team has 
developed protocols to monitor grizzly bear populations and some 
important habitat parameters. These parameters have been used in 
demographic and habitat management.
    In 1983, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee was created to 
coordinate management efforts and research actions across multiple 
Federal lands and States within the various Recovery Zones to recover 
the grizzly bear in the lower 48 States. Its objective was to change 
land management practices to more effectively provide security and 
maintain or improve habitat conditions for the grizzly bear. The 
Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee is made up of upper level managers 
from all affected State and Federal agencies. Also in 1983, the 
Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee, a subcommittee of the Interagency 
Grizzly Bear Committee, was formed to coordinate efforts specific to 
the Yellowstone area and to coordinate activities with the Interagency 
Grizzly Bear Committee. Members of the Yellowstone Ecosystem 
Subcommittee are mid-level managers and include representatives from 
the Shoshone National Forest; the Custer National Forest; the 
Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest; the Bridger-Teton National 
Forest; Gallatin National Forest; Targhee National Forest; Yellowstone 
National Park; Grand Teton National Park; the Wyoming Game and Fish 
Department (WGFD); the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks 
(MDFWP); the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG); the Bureau of 
Land Management (BLM); the Study Team; county government from each 
affected State; and the Service.
    In 1994, The Fund for Animals, Inc., and 42 other organizations and 
individuals filed suit over the adequacy of the 1993 Recovery Plan. In 
1995, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued an 
order that remanded for further study and clarification four issues 
that are relevant to the Yellowstone Ecosystem: (1) The method used to 
measure the status of bear populations; (2) the impacts of genetic 
isolation; (3) how mortalities related to livestock are monitored; and 
(4) the monitoring of disease (Fund for Animals v. Babbitt, 903 F. 
Supp. 96 (D. D.C. 1995); 967 F. Supp. 6 (D. D.C. 1997)). Following this 
decision, all parties filed appeals. In 1996, the parties reached a 
settlement whereby the Service also agreed to append habitat-based 
recovery criteria to the Recovery Plan. These issues and the necessary 
supplements to the Recovery Plan as required by the court order and 
subsequent settlement are discussed in detail in this section and in 
the threats analysis.
    Habitat Management and Habitat-based Recovery Criteria. In 1979, 
the Study Team developed the first comprehensive Guidelines for 
Management Involving Grizzly Bears in the Yellowstone area (hereafter 
referred to as the Guidelines) (Mealey 1979). The Service (1979) 
determined in a biological opinion that implementation of the 
Guidelines by Federal land management agencies would promote 
conservation of the grizzly bear. Beginning in 1979, the six affected 
National Forests (Beaverhead-Deerlodge, Bridger-Teton, Caribou-Targhee, 
Custer, Gallatin, and Shoshone), Yellowstone and Grand Teton National 
Parks, and BLM in the Yellowstone area began managing habitats for 
grizzly bears under direction specified in the Guidelines.
    In 1986, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee modified the 
Guidelines to more effectively manage habitat by mapping and managing 
according to three different management situations:
     Management Situation (1) Grizzly habitat maintenance and 
improvement, and grizzly bear/human conflict minimization receive the 
highest management priority;

[[Page 69858]]

     Management Situation (2) Grizzly bear use is important, 
but not the primary use of the area; or
     Management Situation (3) Grizzly habitat maintenance and 
improvement are not management considerations (USDA 1986).
    Accordingly, the National Forests and National Parks delineated 18 
different bear management units within the Recovery Zone to aid in 
managing habitat and monitoring population trends. Each bear management 
unit was further subdivided into subunits, resulting in a total of 40 
subunits contained within the 18 bear management units. The bear 
management units are analysis areas that approximate the lifetime size 
of a female's home range, while subunits are analysis areas that 
approximate the annual home range size of adult females. Subunits 
provide the optimal scale for evaluation of seasonal feeding 
opportunities and landscape patterns of food availability for grizzly 
bears (Weaver et al. 1986). The bear management units and subunits were 
identified to provide enough quality habitat and to ensure that grizzly 
bears were well distributed across the recovery area.
    Another tool employed to monitor habitat quality and assist in 
habitat management is the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Cumulative Effects 
Model. The model was designed to assess the inherent productivity of 
grizzly bear habitat and the cumulative effects of human activities on 
bear use of that habitat (Weaver et al. 1986; Dixon 1997; Mattson et 
al. 2002). The model uses GIS databases and relative value coefficients 
of human activities, vegetation, and key grizzly bear foods to 
calculate habitat value and habitat effectiveness (Weaver et al. 1986; 
Mattson et al. 2002). Habitat value is a relative measure of the 
average net digestible energy potentially available to bears in a 
subunit during each season. Habitat value is primarily a function of 
vegetation and major foods (Weaver et al. 1986; Dixon 1997). Habitat 
effectiveness is that part of the energy potentially derived from the 
area that is available to bears given their response to humans (Weaver 
et al. 1986; Dixon 1997; Mattson et al. 2002). More specifically, 
habitat effectiveness is a function of relative value coefficients of 
human activities, such as location, duration, and intensity of use for 
motorized access routes, non-motorized access routes, developed sites, 
and front- and back-country dispersed uses (Mattson et al. 2002). The 
Cumulative Effects Model is updated annually to reflect changes in 
vegetation, major foods, and the number and capacity of human 
    As per a court settlement (Fund for Animals v. Babbitt) and as 
recommended by Recovery Plan Task Y423, the Service has worked to 
``establish a threshold of minimal habitat values to be maintained 
within each Cumulative Effects Analysis Unit in order to ensure that 
sufficient habitat is available to support a viable population'' 
(Service 1993, p. 55). On June 17, 1997, the Service held a public 
workshop in Bozeman, Montana, to develop and refine habitat-based 
recovery criteria for the grizzly bear. A Federal Register notice 
notified the public of this workshop and provided interested parties an 
opportunity to participate and submit comments (62 FR 19777, April 23, 
1997). After considering 1,167 written comments, the Service developed 
biologically-based habitat criteria with the overall goal of 
maintaining or improving habitat conditions at 1998 levels.
    Recognizing that grizzly bears are opportunistic omnivores and that 
a landscape's ability to support grizzly bears is a function of overall 
habitat productivity, the distribution and abundance of major food 
sources, the levels and type of human activities, grizzly bear social 
systems, bear densities, and stochasticity, there is no known way to 
deductively calculate minimum habitat values. The Service instead 
inductively selected 1998 levels because it was known that these 
habitat values had adequately supported an increasing Yellowstone 
grizzly bear population throughout the 1990s (Eberhardt et al. 1994; 
Knight and Blanchard 1995; Knight et al. 1995; Boyce 2001) and that 
levels of secure habitat and the number and capacity of developed sites 
had changed little from 1988 to 1998 (USFS 2004). Specific habitat 
conditions or criteria include limiting road densities inside the 
Recovery Zone, maintaining or increasing levels of secure habitat, 
maintaining or improving habitat effectiveness values in secure 
habitat, and limiting further site development and livestock grazing 
allotments on public lands within the Yellowstone grizzly bear Recovery 
Zone. Additionally, the Service developed four general habitat-based 
parameters to monitor and relate to population information: (1) 
Productivity of the four major foods; (2) habitat effectiveness as 
measured by the Cumulative Effects Model; (3) grizzly bear mortality 
numbers, locations, and causes; grizzly bear/human conflicts; nuisance 
bear management actions; bear/hunter conflicts; and bear/livestock 
conflicts; and (4) development on private lands. A copy of the habitat-
based criteria is available at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/species/mammals/grizzly/yellowstone.htm.
 This revised habitat-based recovery 

criteria will be appended to the Recovery Plan and is included in the 
Conservation Strategy. These habitat-based criteria have been 
maintained successfully at 1998 levels, and the Conservation Strategy 
ensures they will continue to be met in the foreseeable future (see 
Conservation Strategy).
    Population and Demographic Management. Mortality control is a key 
part of any successful management effort; however, some mortality, 
including human-caused mortality, is unavoidable in a dynamic system 
where hundreds of bears inhabit thousands of square miles of diverse 
habitat with several million human visitors and residents. In 1977, 
Eberhardt documented that adult female survival was the most important 
of the vital rates influencing population trajectory. Low adult female 
survival was the critical factor causing decline in the Yellowstone 
area population prior to the mid-1980s (Knight and Eberhardt 1985). In 
the early 1980s, with the development of the first Grizzly Bear 
Recovery Plan (Service 1982), agencies began to control mortality and 
increase adult female survivorship (Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee 
1983; USDA 1986; Knight et al. 1999). The Recovery Plan (Service 1982, 
revised 1993) established three demographic (population) goals to 
objectively measure and monitor recovery of the Yellowstone grizzly 
bear population:
    Demographic Recovery Criterion 1--Maintain a minimum of 15 
unduplicated (only counted once) females with cubs-of-the-year over a 
running 6-year average both inside the Recovery Zone and within a 16-km 
(10-mi) area immediately surrounding the Recovery Zone. This recovery 
criterion has been met.
    Demographic Recovery Criterion 2--Sixteen of 18 bear management 
units within the Recovery Zone must be occupied by females with young, 
with no 2 adjacent bear management units unoccupied, during a 6-year 
sum of observations. This criterion is important as it ensures that 
reproductive females occupy the majority of the Recovery Zone and are 
not concentrated in one portion of the ecosystem. This recovery 
criterion has been met.
    Demographic Recovery Criterion 3--The running 6-year average for 
total known, human-caused mortality should not exceed 4 percent of the 
minimum population estimate in any 2

[[Page 69859]]

consecutive years; and human-caused female grizzly bear mortality 
should not exceed 30 percent of the above total in any 2 consecutive 
years. These recovery criteria have not been exceeded in 2 consecutive 
years since 1997.
    Although the Recovery Plan suggested calculating sustainable 
mortality as a percentage of the minimum population estimate (as 
outlined in Demographic Recovery Criterion 3), this method no longer 
represents the best scientific and commercial information available 
(see pages 9-11 of Study Team 2005). As per a court settlement (Fund 
for Animals v. Babbit) and as recommended by Recovery Plan Task Y11, 
the Service has worked to ``determine population conditions at which 
the species is viable and self-sustaining,'' and to ``reevaluate and 
refine population criteria as new information becomes available'' 
(Service 1993, p. 44). Beginning in 2000, the Study Team, at the 
request of the Service, began a comprehensive evaluation of the 
demographic data and the methodology used to estimate population size 
and establish the sustainable level of mortality to grizzly bears in 
the Yellowstone Ecosystem. Accordingly, the Study Team conducted a 
critical review of the current methods for calculating population size, 
estimating the known to unknown mortality ratio, and establishing 
sustainable mortality levels for the Yellowstone grizzly population 
(Study Team 2005). The product of this work is a 60-page report 
compiled by the Study Team that evaluates current methods, reviews 
recent scientific literature, examines alternative methods, and 
recommends the most valid technique based on these reviews (Study Team 
2005) (accessible at http:// mountain-prairie.fws.gov/species/mammals/

grizzly/yellowstone.htm). The end result of this review is a revised 
method customized for the Yellowstone grizzly bear population for 
calculating total population size rather than minimum population size 
(Study Team 2005). This revised method will be appended to the Recovery 
Plan and included in the Conservation Strategy.
    As with the previous method, the revised method uses counts of 
unduplicated females with cubs-of-the-year as the baseline data upon 
which the total population is calculated. From this, the total number 
of independent females (>2 years old) in the Yellowstone population is 
calculated (Keating et al. 2002). This number is then divided by the 
modeled sex ratio (Schwartz et al. 2005) of grizzly bears in the 
Yellowstone population to determine the total number of independent 
males (>2 years old) in the population. The last component of 
calculating a total population is to add the number of cubs less than 2 
years old (i.e., dependent young.). This number is extrapolated from 
the number of females with cubs-of-the-year (Study Team 2005). Finally, 
by adding the number of independent males, independent females, and 
dependent young, the total population is determined. The revised method 
for calculating total population size produces a larger estimate than 
the current method which only calculates the minimum population size. 
For example, using the current method, the minimum population size in 
2004 was 431 bears. Using the revised method, the total population 
estimate of Yellowstone grizzly bears in 2004 was 588 (Study Team 
2005). The total population estimate is considered a more accurate 
representation of actual population size (Study Team 2005). Total 
population size is critical in determining sustainable mortality.
    Also outdated is the Recovery Plan's total human-caused mortality 
limit and female human-caused mortality limit as outlined in 
Demographic Recovery Criterion 3. In 1986, Harris (1986) concluded that 
healthy grizzly bear populations could sustain approximately 6.5 
percent human-caused mortality without population decline. To account 
for unknown/unreported deaths, the Service assumed that for every two 
bears known to be killed by human causes, there was one that was 
unknown. This approach on unknown mortalities resulted in the Service 
adopting a more conservative 4 percent limit on known human-caused 
grizzly bear mortalities in the Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan (Service 
    After critically reviewing the current method of establishing 
human-caused mortality limits, alternative methods, and scientific 
literature, the Study Team concluded that Harris' (1986) method was no 
longer the best available nor the most biologically valid (Study Team 
2005). As a result of this effort, the Study Team recommended revising 
the sustainable mortality limits for the Yellowstone population (Study 
Team 2005). The revised mortality limits are derived from a more 
accurate model for establishing sustainable mortality limits for 
grizzly bear populations (Schwartz et al. 2005).
    The refined method resulted in new, calculated mortality limits for 
independent females, males, and dependent young. Unlike the previous 
method, which only counted human-caused mortalities against a 4 percent 
limit, the revised method counts all deaths of grizzly bears from any 
source against the limits. This includes: (1) Known and probable human-
caused mortalities; (2) reported deaths due to natural and undetermined 
causes; and (3) calculated unreported human-caused mortalities. This 
new method is a much more comprehensive mortality management approach. 
Between 1980 and 2002, approximately 21 percent of all known grizzly 
bear deaths were from undetermined causes (Servheen et al. 2004). These 
deaths could not be counted against the 4 percent human-caused 
mortality limit using the previous method because the cause of death 
could not be confirmed. The previous method also assumed a 2-to-1 
known-to-unknown mortality ratio. Many researchers hypothesize that the 
ratio of known-to-unknown mortality is much higher than 2-to-1 (Knight 
and Eberhardt 1985; McLellan et al. 1999). After careful consideration 
and using the best available science, the Study Team adopted a known-
to-unknown mortalities ratio of 1-to-1.7 (Cherry et al. 2002; Study 
Team 2005).
    For independent females, the revised annual mortality limit, not to 
be exceeded in 2 consecutive years, which includes all sources of 
mortality, is 9 percent of the total number of independent females. 
Simulations have shown that a 9 percent adult female mortality rate 
allows populations to increase at 3 percent per year with a stable to 
increasing population 95 percent of the time (Schwartz et al. 2005).
    The revised mortality limit for independent males (>=2 years old), 
not to be exceeded in 3 consecutive years, is 15 percent of the total 
number of independent males and, like the limit for independent 
females, includes all sources of mortality. This level of mortality was 
sustainable under different population growth model scenarios simulated 
by Schwartz et al. (2005). The Study Team chose this limit because it 
approximates the level of male mortality in the GYA from 1983 to 2001, 
a period when population size was calculated to have increased at 4 to 
7 percent each year (Schwartz et al. 2005). Independent males can 
endure a relatively high mortality rate without affecting the overall 
stability or trajectory of the population because they contribute 
little to overall population growth (Mace and Waller 1998; Wielgus 
2002; Study Team 2005; Schwartz et al. 2005).
    For dependent young (< 2 years old), the mortality limit, not to be 
exceeded in 3 consecutive years, is 9 percent of the total number of 
dependent young (Study Team 2005). However, this only includes known 
and probable human-caused mortalities. This limit is less

[[Page 69860]]

than the 15 percent human-caused mortality documented for each sex from 
1983 to 2001, a period of population growth and expansion (Study Team 
2005). Although it is known that dependent bears experience far higher 
natural mortality rates than independent bears, there is no known way 
to sample these mortalities directly in the field. Instead, these rates 
are calculated from consecutive years of observing radio-collared 
females with cubs-of-the-year.
    Annual allowable mortality limits for each bear class (independent 
female, independent male, dependent young) are calculated as a running 
3-year average based on total population estimates of each bear class 
for the current year and the 2 preceding years (Study Team 2005). This 
dampens variability and provides managers with inter-annual stability 
in the threshold number of mortalities allowed. The Study Team 
calculates both the total population size and the mortality limits 
within an area designated by the Conservation Strategy (see The 
Conservation Strategy section) that overlaps and extends beyond 
suitable habitat (Figure 1, see Application of the Distinct Population 
Segment Policy section). Future changes to either of these methods will 
be based on the best scientific information available. This revised 
methodology for calculating total population size and establishing 
sustainable mortality limits will be appended to the Recovery Plan 
prior to our making a final determination on this proposed action and 
included in the Conservation Strategy. Applying this method to 1999 to 
2004 data, these mortality limits have not been exceeded for 
consecutive years for any bear class.
    Maintaining Genetic Diversity. As per a court settlement (Fund for 
Animals v. Babbitt), measurable criteria to assess genetic isolation 
will be appended to the existing Yellowstone chapter of the 1993 
Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan (Service 1993) before we make a final 
determination on this proposed action. Changes in genetic diversity 
must be monitored over time in order to make sound decisions regarding 
the need for augmentation of new individuals to increase diversity if 
it is being lost. When the Recovery Plan was revised in 1993, many of 
the genetic techniques and markers commonly used today to assess 
genetic diversity and isolation were just being developed. Following 
direction from the Court, the Service reviewed the best available and 
most recent scientific information pertaining to genetic monitoring and 
established measurable genetic criteria based on this review. This 
document was made available for public review in 1997 (62 FR 47677; 
September 10, 1997). A draft of this document is available for viewing 
online at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/species/mammals/grizzly/yellowstone.htm.
 This revised genetics recovery criteria will be 

appended to the Recovery Plan and included in the Conservation 
Strategy. Long-term management of genetic diversity is discussed in 
more detail under Factor E.
    The Conservation Strategy. In order to ensure the long-term 
preservation of a viable population, the Recovery Plan calls for the 
development of ``a conservation strategy to outline habitat and 
population monitoring that will continue in force after recovery'' 
(Recovery Plan Task Y426) (Service 1993, p. 55). To accomplish this 
goal, in 1993, the Service created the Interagency Conservation 
Strategy Team which included biologists from the National Park Service 
(NPS), the USFS, the Service, the IDFG, the WGFD, and MTFWP.
    In March 2000, a draft Conservation Strategy for the GYA was 
released for public review and comment (65 FR 11340; March 2, 2000). 
Also in 2000, a Governors' Roundtable was organized to provide 
recommendations from the perspectives of the three States that would be 
involved with grizzly bear management after delisting. In 2002, the 
draft Final Conservation Strategy for the Grizzly Bear in the Greater 
Yellowstone Area (hereafter referred to as the Strategy) was released, 
along with drafts of State grizzly bear management plans (all 
accessible at http:// mountain-prairie.fws.gov/species/mammals/grizzly/

yellowstone.htm). The Service will sign the Strategy, and it will go 
into effect if we finalize this proposed action.
    The purpose of the Strategy and associated State and Federal 
implementation plans is to--(1) describe, summarize, and implement the 
coordinated efforts to manage the grizzly bear population and its 
habitat to ensure continued conservation of the Yellowstone grizzly 
bear population; (2) specify and implement the population, habitat, and 
nuisance bear standards to maintain a recovered grizzly bear population 
for the foreseeable future; (3) document the regulatory mechanisms and 
legal authorities, policies, management, and monitoring programs that 
exist to maintain the recovered grizzly bear population; and (4) 
document the actions which the participating agencies have agreed to 
    The Strategy identifies and provides a framework for managing two 
areas, the Primary Conservation Area (PCA) and adjacent areas of 
suitable habitat where occupancy by grizzly bears is anticipated. The 
PCA boundaries (containing 23,853 sq km (9,210 sq mi)) correspond to 
those of the Yellowstone Recovery Zone (Service 1993) and will replace 
the Recovery Zone boundary if this proposed delisting is finalized 
(Figure 1 (see Application of the Distinct Population Segment Policy 
section)). The PCA contains adequate seasonal habitat components needed 
to support the recovered Yellowstone grizzly bear population for the 
foreseeable future and to allow bears to continue to expand outside the 
PCA. The PCA includes approximately 51 percent of the suitable habitat 
within the DPS and approximately 90 percent of the population of female 
grizzly bears with cubs (Schwartz 2005, unpublished data).
    The Strategy will be implemented and funded by both Federal and 
State agencies within the Yellowstone DPS. These Federal agencies will 
cooperate with the State wildlife agencies, MTFWP, IGFD, and WDFG, to 
implement the Strategy and its protective habitat and population 
standards. The USFS and NPS (which own and manage approximately 98 
percent of the PCA) will be responsible for maintaining or improving 
habitat standards inside the PCA and monitoring population criteria. 
Specifically, Yellowstone National Park; Grand Teton National Park; and 
the Shoshone, the Beaverhead-Deerlodge, the Bridger-Teton, the Caribou-
Targhee, the Custer, and the Gallatin National Forests are the primary 
areas with Federal agencies responsible for implementing the Strategy. 
Affected National Forests and National Parks are currently in the 
process of incorporating the habitat standards and criteria into their 
Forest Plans and National Park management plans via appropriate 
amendment processes so that they are legally applied to these public 
lands within the proposed Yellowstone DPS boundaries. The Service would 
not finalize this proposed action until these amendments to current 
management plans are completed.
    Outside of the PCA, grizzly bears will be allowed to expand into 
suitable habitat. Here the objective is to maintain existing resource 
management and recreational uses and to allow agencies to respond to 
demonstrated problems with appropriate management actions. The key to 
successful management of grizzly bears outside of the PCA lies in their 
successfully utilizing lands not managed solely for bears, but in which 
their needs are considered along with other uses. Currently, 
approximately 10

[[Page 69861]]

percent of female grizzly bears with cubs occupy habitat outside of the 
PCA (Schwartz 2005, unpublished data). The area of suitable habitat 
outside of the PCA is roughly 82.3 percent federally owned and 
administered by one of the six National Forests in the region, the BLM, 
the NPS, or the Service; 9.5 percent privately owned; 6.0 percent 
tribally owned; 0.7 percent State-owned land; and 2 percent in other 
ownership (such as private conservation trusts or other Federal 
ownership). State grizzly bear management plans, Forest Plans, and 
other appropriate planning documents provide specific management 
direction for areas outside of the PCA.
    This differential management standard (one standard inside the PCA 
and another standard for suitable habitat outside the PCA) has been 
successful in the past (see USFS 2004, p. 19). Lands within the PCA/
Recovery Zone are currently managed primarily to maintain grizzly bear 
habitat, whereas lands outside of the PCA/Recovery Zone boundaries are 
managed with more consideration for human uses (Service 1993). Such 
flexible management promotes communication and tolerance for grizzly 
bear recovery. As grizzly bear populations within the Recovery Zone 
have rebounded in response to recovery efforts, there has been a 
gradual natural recolonization of suitable habitat outside of the PCA/
Recovery Zone. Today, most suitable habitat outside of the Recovery 
Zone is occupied by grizzly bears (68 percent).
    The Strategy is an adaptive, dynamic document that establishes a 
framework to incorporate new and better scientific information as it 
becomes available or as necessary in response to environmental changes. 
Ongoing review and evaluation of the effectiveness of the Strategy is 
the responsibility of the State and Federal managers and will be 
updated by the management agencies every 5 years or as necessary, 
allowing public comment in the updating process.

Previous Federal Actions

    On July 28, 1975, the grizzly bear was designated as threatened in 
the conterminous (lower 48) United States (40 FR 31734). On November 5, 
1976, the Service proposed critical habitat for the grizzly bear (41 FR 
48757). This proposed rule was never finalized and we withdrew this 
proposed designation in 1979 because the 1978 amendments to the ESA (16 
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) imposed additional obligations on the Service, 
such as economic analysis, that had not been adequately addressed in 
the proposal.
    At the time of listing, special regulations were issued in 
conjunction with the listing determination, and were incorporated into 
50 CFR 17.40(b). These rules provided general protection to the 
species, but allowed take under certain conditions to defend human 
life, to eliminate nuisance animals, and to carry out research. Legal 
grizzly bear mortality has been almost entirely due to removal of 
chronic nuisance bears by government bear managers due to repeated 
human/bear conflicts or to killing by humans in self-defense or defense 
of others (Gunther et al. 2004; Servheen et al. 2004). In addition, a 
limited sport hunting season was authorized in a specified portion of 
northwestern Montana; these rules were modified in 1985 (50 FR 35086; 
August 29, 1985) and 1986 (51 FR 33753; September 23, 1986). A similar, 
limited hunt was proposed for the Yellowstone Ecosystem in October of 
1989 (54 FR 42524; October 17, 1989), but this rule was never 
finalized. The Service withdrew the hunt provisions of 50 CFR 17.40(b) 
(see 57 FR 37478) in response to a court decision that declared 50 CFR 
17.40(b)(1)(i)(E) invalid and enjoined the Service from authorizing a 
grizzly bear hunt (Fund for Animals, Inc., v. Turner, Civil No. 91-2201 
(MB), September 27, 1991) (57 FR 37478; August 19, 1992).
    According to the Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan (Service 1982, 1993), 
individual populations could be delisted as recovery goals were 
achieved (Service 1982, 1993). In the 1990s, the Service received a 
number of petitions to change the status of several grizzly bear 
populations. The Service issued warranted-but-precluded petition 
findings to reclassify the grizzly bear in the North Cascade Ecosystems 
as endangered in 1991 and 1998 (56 FR 33892, July 24, 1991; 63 FR 
30453, June 4, 1998). The Service also issued warranted-but-precluded 
petition findings to reclassify the grizzly bear in the Cabinet-Yaak 
Ecosystems as endangered in 1993 and 1999 (58 FR 8250, February 12, 
1993; 64 FR 26725, May 17, 1999). Finally, the Service issued a not 
warranted petition finding to uplist the Selkirk Ecosystem bears in 
1993 (58 FR 8250; February 12, 1993), followed by a warranted-but-
precluded petition finding in 1999 (64 FR 26725; May 17, 1999). The 
Service reviewed these warranted-but-precluded findings in the 1999 (64 
FR 57533; October 25, 1999), 2001 (66 FR 54808; October 30, 2001), 2002 
(67 FR 40657; June 13, 2002), 2003 (69 FR 24876; May 4, 2004), and 2004 
(70 FR 24870; May 11, 2005) Candidate Notices of Review. These actions 
remain precluded by higher priority actions. The Service's decision to 
manage each population separately, including each population's listing 
status, predated our DPS policy (61 FR 4722; February 7, 1996). None of 
the above decisions included formal DPS analysis, although the 
warranted uplisting petition finding in 1999 (64 FR 26725; May 17, 
1999) included a preliminary DPS analysis. In preparation for future 
application of the DPS policy, beyond this action, including that 
required to implement warranted-but-precluded uplistings or any 
additional reclassification proposals, we are currently collecting 
additional genetic and bear movement information. The Service expects 
that this information will be available within the next few years. In 
anticipation of this information, the Service intends to initiate a 5-
year review of all listed grizzly bear populations in the conterminous 
States, including an evaluation of the appropriate application of the 
DPS policy and the threats facing each listable entity should this 
proposed rule be finalized. Adequate information of this type already 
exists for the Yellowstone grizzly bear population.
    This proposed delisting action was not prompted by a petition. 
However, there was a March 31, 2004, petition from the Wyoming Farm 
Bureau Federation requesting that we declare the grizzly bear in the 
GYA as a DPS (Hamilton et al. in litt. 2004). This petition did not 
seek to change the status of grizzly bears as a threatened species in 
any or all of the species' range. On May 17, 2004, the Service 
responded that section 4 of the ESA limits petitionable actions to 
listing, delisting, designation or modification of critical habitat, or 
reclassification of the status of a species (meaning whether a species 
is classified as endangered or threatened) and that this petition did 
not fit any of these categories (Blankenship in litt. 2004). Instead, 
petitioners were informed that the requested action falls within the 
authority of the Administrative Procedures Act; that the Service was 
currently considering the Yellowstone population for delisting; and 
that an evaluation of the Yellowstone grizzly bear recovery area as a 
potential DPS was a part of this process. The Administrative Procedures 
Act provides no statutory time periods for processing petitions, but 
this action, if finalized, will address this petition.

[[Page 69862]]

Distinct Vertebrate Population Segment Policy Overview

    Pursuant to the ESA, we shall consider for listing any species, 
subspecies, or, for vertebrates, any DPS of these taxa if there is 
sufficient information to indicate that such action may be warranted. 
To interpret and implement the DPS provision of the ESA and 
congressional guidance, the Service and the National Marine Fisheries 
Service published, on December 21, 1994, a draft Policy Regarding the 
Recognition of Distinct Vertebrate Population Segments under the ESA 
and invited public comments on it (59 FR 65884). After review of 
comments and further consideration, the Services adopted the 
interagency policy as issued in draft form, and published it in the 
Federal Register on February 7, 1996 (61 FR 4722). This policy 
addresses the establishment of DPSs for potential listing actions.
    Under our DPS policy, three factors are considered in a decision 
regarding the establishment of a possible DPS. These are applied 
similarly for additions to the list of endangered and threatened 
species, reclassification, and removal from the list. They are--(1) 
discreteness of the population segment in relation to the remainder of 
the taxon (i.e., U. a. horribilis); (2) the significance of the 
population segment to the taxon to which it belongs (i.e., U. a. 
horribilis); and (3) the population segment's conservation status in 
relation to the ESA's standards for listing (i.e., is the population 
segment, when treated as if it were a species, endangered or 

Application of the Distinct Population Segment Policy

    Although the Vertebrate Population Policy does not allow State or 
other intra-national governmental boundaries to be used in determining 
the discreteness of a potential DPS, an artificial or manmade boundary 
may be used as a boundary of convenience in order to clearly identify 
the geographic area included within a DPS designation. Easily 
identifiable manmade projects, such as interstate highways, Federal 
highways, and State highways, also can serve as a boundary of 
convenience for delineating a DPS. Thus, the proposed Yellowstone DPS 
consists of: That portion of Idaho that is east of Interstate Highway 
15 and north of U.S. Highway 30; and that portion of Montana that is 
east of Interstate Highway 15 and south of Interstate Highway 90; that 
portion of Wyoming south of Interstate Highway 90, west of Interstate 
Highway 25, Wyoming State Highway 220, and U.S. Highway 287 south of 
Three Forks (at the 220 and 287 intersection), and north of Interstate 
Highway 80 and U.S. Highway 30 (Figure 1, below).
    The core of the proposed Yellowstone DPS is the Yellowstone 
Recovery Zone (24,000 sq km (9,200 sq mi)) (Service 1982, 1993). The 
Yellowstone Recovery Zone includes Yellowstone National Park; 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 (Service 1993). As grizzly bear 
populations have rebounded and densities have increased, bears have 
expanded their range beyond the Recovery Zone, into other suitable 
habitat. Grizzly bears in this area now occupy about 36,940 sq km 
(14,260 sq mi) in and around the Yellowstone Recovery Zone (Schwartz et 
al. 2002; Schwartz 2005, unpublished data). No grizzly bears 
originating from the Yellowstone Recovery Zone have been suspected or 
confirmed beyond the borders of the proposed Yellowstone DPS.

[[Page 69863]]



[[Page 69864]]

Analysis for Discreteness

    Under our Policy Regarding the Recognition of Distinct Vertebrate 
Population Segments, a population segment of a vertebrate species may 
be considered discrete if it satisfies either one of the following 
conditions--(1) It is markedly separated from other populations of the 
same taxon (i.e., U. a. horribilis) as a consequence of physical, 
physiological, ecological, or behavioral factors (quantitative measures 
of genetic or morphological discontinuity may provide evidence of this 
separation); or (2) it is delimited by international governmental 
boundaries within which differences in control of exploitation, 
management of habitat, conservation status, or regulatory mechanisms 
exist that are significant in light of section 4(a)(1)(D) (``the 
inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms'') of the ESA.
    The Yellowstone grizzly bear population is the southernmost 
population remaining in the conterminous States and has been physically 
separated from other areas where grizzly bears occur for at least 100 
years (Merriam 1922; Miller and Waits 2003). The nearest population of 
grizzly bears is found in the NCDE. These populations are separated by 
land ownership, vegetation, and topographic patterns which have 
promoted human occupation, development, and land uses in the 
intervening valleys between large blocks of mountainous, public lands 
(Servheen et al. 2003). These human activities increase grizzly bear 
mortality risk by increasing the frequency of encounters with humans, 
which increases the chances for grizzly bear/human conflicts (Mattson 
et al. 1996). The end result of this increased mortality risk in the 
intervening valleys is a functional barrier to grizzly bear movement 
across the landscape and connectivity between the GYA and the NCDE.
    As of 2005, grizzly bears from the Yellowstone area have not 
migrated north across Interstate 90 (the northern boundary of the 
proposed DPS), probably for at least the last century (Miller and Waits 
2003). Meanwhile, during the last decade, there have been occasional 
anecdotal reports of grizzly bears from the NCDE as far south as 
Highway 12 near Helena, Montana. These unverified reports are 
approximately 130 km (80 mi) north of the most northerly Yellowstone 
grizzly bears. This distance is too far for normal grizzly bear 
dispersal distances of roughly 10 to 40 km (6 to 25 mi) (McLellan and 
Hovey 2001; Proctor et al. 2004) to effectively connect the NCDE 
population with the proposed Yellowstone DPS. There is currently no 
connectivity, nor are there any resident grizzly bears in the area, 
between these two separate grizzly bear populations. Although future 
connectivity through this area may be possible as grizzly bear 
populations expand, grizzly bears in the Yellowstone area remain an 
island population separated from other grizzly bears further north by 
about 210 km (130 mi).
    Because the Yellowstone Ecosystem represents the most southerly 
population of grizzly bears, connectivity further south is not an 
issue. Additionally, connectivity east also is irrelevant to this 
action as grizzly bears in the lower 48 States no longer exist east of 
the Yellowstone area, and most of the habitat is unsuitable for grizzly 
bears. Finally, connectivity west into the Bitterroot Mountains is 
irrelevant to this action because no bears have been documented in this 
ecosystem in the past 30 years (Service 1993; 65 FR 69624, November 17, 
2000; Service 2000).
    Genetic data also support the conclusion that grizzly bears from 
the Yellowstone area are markedly separated from other grizzly bears. 
Genetic studies involving heterozygosity (provides a measure of genetic 
variation in either a population or individual) estimates at 8 
microsatellite loci show 55 percent heterozygosity in the Yellowstone 
area grizzly bears compared to 69 percent in the NCDE bears (Paetkau et 
al. 1998). Heterozygosity is a useful measure of genetic diversity with 
higher values indicative of greater genetic variation and evolutionary 
potential. High levels of genetic variation are indicative of high 
levels of connectivity among populations or high numbers of breeding 
animals. By comparing heterozygosity of extant bears to samples from 
Yellowstone grizzlies of the early 1900s, Miller and Waits (2003) 
concluded that gene flow and therefore population connectivity, between 
the Yellowstone area grizzly population and populations to the north 
was very low historically, even prior to the arrival of settlers. The 
reasons for this historic limitation of gene flow are unclear. 
Increasing levels of human activity and settlement in this intervening 
area over the last century further limited grizzly bear movements into 
and out of the Yellowstone area, resulting in even less connectivity 
than in the past.
    Based on our analysis of the best available scientific information, 
we find that the Yellowstone area grizzly population and other 
remaining grizzly bears populations are markedly separated from each 
other. This contention is supported by evidence of physical separation 
between populations and evidence of genetic discontinuity. Therefore, 
the proposed Yellowstone DPS meets the criterion of discreteness under 
our Policy Regarding the Recognition of Distinct Vertebrate Population 

Analysis for Significance

    If we determine a population segment is discrete, we next consider 
available scientific evidence of its significance to the taxon (i.e., 
U. a. horribilis) to which it belongs. Our DPS policy states that this 
consideration may include, but is not limited to, the following--(1) 
Persistence of the discrete population segment in an ecological setting 
unusual or unique for the taxon; (2) Evidence that loss of the discrete 
population segment would result in a significant gap in the range of 
the taxon; (3) Evidence that the discrete population segment represents 
the only surviving natural occurrence of a taxon that may be more 
abundant elsewhere as an introduced population outside its historic 
range; and/or (4) Evidence that the discrete population segment differs 
markedly from other populations of the species in its genetic 
characteristics. Below we address Factors 1, 2, and 4. Factor 3 does 
not apply to the Yellowstone grizzly bear population because it is not 
the only surviving wild population of the species and, therefore, this 
factor is not included in our analysis for significance.
    Unusual or Unique Ecological Setting. Grizzly bears in the 
Yellowstone area exist in a unique ecosystem that has greater access to 
large-bodied ungulates such as bison (Bison bison), elk (Cervus 
elaphus), and moose (Alces alces) and less access to fall berries than 
any other interior North American, European, or Asian grizzly bear 
population (Stroganov 1969; Mattson et al. 1991a; Jacoby et al. 1999; 
Schwartz et al. 2003). Unlike most other areas in the world where brown 
or grizzly bears still exist, the Yellowstone area ecosystem contains 
extensive populations of ungulates with an estimated 100,000 elk, 
29,500 mule (Odocoileus hemionus) and white-tailed deer (O. 
virginianus), 5,800 moose, 4,000 bison and relatively smaller 
population of pronghorn antelope (Antilocapra americana) (Service 1994; 
Toman et al. 1997; Smith et al. 2003). Although grizzly bears are 
successful omnivores, grizzlies in the rest of the conterminous States 
(Jacoby et al. 1999), most of Europe (Berducou et al. 1983; Clevenger 
et al. 1992; Dahle et al. 1998), and in Siberia (Stroganov 1969) rely 
on plant and insect materials

[[Page 69865]]

for the majority of their diet. In contrast, grizzlies in the 
Yellowstone area rely on terrestrial mammals as their primary source of 
nutrition, as indicated by bear scats (Mattson 1997), feed site 
analysis (Mattson 1997), and bear hair isotope analysis (Jacoby et al. 
1999). Concentration of isotopic nitrogen (\15\N) in grizzly bear hair 
from Yellowstone grizzly bears suggests that meat constitutes 45 
percent and 79 percent of the annual diet for females and males, 
respectively (Jacoby et al. 1999). These high percentages of meat in 
the diet for Yellowstone grizzly bears are in contrast to the 0 to 33 
percent of meat in the diet of bears in the NCDE and 0 to 17 percent of 
meat in the diet in bears from the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem (Jacoby et 
al. 1999). Furthermore, the source of this animal meat is primarily 
large-bodied ungulates, not fish, as in other populations of brown 
bears in Alaska and Siberia (Stroganov 1969; Hilderbrand et al. 1996). 
Of particular relevance is grizzly bear use of wild bison, a species 
endemic to North America, but eradicated in most of the 48 States 
except the GYA by the end of the 19th century (Steelquist 1998). 
Although bison numbers have increased since this time, the vast 
majority of bison are found in managed or ranched herds (Steelquist 
1998). Their habitat, bunchgrass prairie (tallgrass, mixed-grass, and 
shortgrass prairie), has been almost entirely converted to agricultural 
lands (Steelquist 1998), leaving little opportunity for existence in 
areas outside of the isolated refuges and ranches they are commonly 
found today. Mattson (1997) found that wild bison comprised the second 
largest source of ungulate meat (24 percent) consumed by Yellowstone 
grizzly bears, second only to elk (53 percent).
    The Yellowstone grizzly population also exists in a unique 
ecological setting because it is able to use whitebark pine seeds as a 
major food source. Whitebark pine, a tree species found only in North 
America (Schmidt 1994), exhibits annual variation in seed crops with 
high seed production in some years and very low seed production in 
other years (Weaver and Forcella 1986; Morgan and Bunting 1992). During 
these years of high seed production, Yellowstone grizzly bears derive 
as much as 51 percent of their protein from pine nuts (Felicetti et al. 
2003). In fact, grizzly bear consumption of ungulates decreases during 
years of high whitebark pine seed production (Mattson 1997). In most 
areas of North America where whitebark pine distribution overlaps with 
grizzly bear populations, bears do not consistently use this potential 
food source (Mattson and Reinhart 1994). This may be due to different 
climatic regimes which sustain berry-producing shrubs or simply the 
scarcity of whitebark pines in some areas of its range (Mattson and 
Reinhart 1994). Dependence of Yellowstone grizzly bears on whitebark 
pine is unique because in most areas of its range, whitebark pine has 
been significantly reduced in numbers and distribution due to the 
introduced pathogen whitepine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola) 
(Kendall and Keane 2001). While there is evidence of blister rust in 
whitebark pines in the Yellowstone area, the pathogen has been present 
for more than 50 years (McDonald and Hoff 2001) but very few trees have 
been infected (see Factor E). Due to this dependency of Yellowstone 
grizzly bears on animal and plant species endemic to North America and 
currently limited to the GYA, the population is significant to the 
taxon because of its unique ecological setting.
    Significant Gap in the Range of the Taxon. Loss of the proposed 
Yellowstone DPS would represent a significant gap in the range of the 
taxon. As noted above, grizzly bears once lived throughout the North 
American Rockies from Alaska and Canada, and south into central Mexico. 
Grizzly bears have been extirpated from most of the southern portions 
of their historic range. Today, the proposed Yellowstone DPS represents 
the southernmost reach of the grizzly bear. The loss of this population 
would be significant because it would substantially curtail the range 
of the grizzly bear by moving the range approximately 4 degrees of 
latitude to the north. Thus, the loss of this population would result 
in a significant gap in the current range of the taxon.
    Given the grizzly bear's historic occupancy of the conterminous 
States and the portion of the historic range the conterminous States 
represent, recovery in the lower 48 States where the grizzly bear 
existed in 1975 when it was listed has long been viewed as important to 
the taxon (40 FR 31734). The proposed Yellowstone DPS is significant in 
achieving this objective as it is 1 of only 5 known occupied areas and 
constitutes approximately half of the remaining grizzly bears in the 
conterminous 48 States. Finally, the proposed Yellowstone DPS 
represents the only grizzly bear population not connected to bears in 
    Marked Genetic Differences. Several genetics studies have confirmed 
the uniqueness of grizzly bears in the Yellowstone area. The 
Yellowstone area population has been isolated from other grizzly bear 
populations for approximately 100 years or more (Miller and Waits 
2003). Yellowstone grizzly bears have the lowest relative 
heterozygosity of any continental grizzly population yet investigated 
(Paetkau et al. 1998; Waits et al. 1998b). Only Kodiak Island grizzly 
bears, a different subspecies (Ursus arctos middendorfi), have lower 
heterozygosity scores (26.5 percent), reflecting as much as 12,000 
years of separation from mainland populations (Paetkau et al. 1998; 
Waits et al. 1998b). Miller and Waits (2003) conclude that gene flow 
between the Yellowstone area and the closest remaining population was 
limited prior to the arrival of European settlers but could only 
speculate as to the reasons behind this historical separation. The 
apparent long-term difference in heterozygosity between Yellowstone and 
other Montana populations indicates a unique set of circumstances in 
which limited movement between these areas has resulted in a markedly 
different genetic situation for the Yellowstone population.
    We conclude that the Yellowstone grizzly population is significant 
because it exists in a unique ecological setting; the loss of this 
population would result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon; 
and this population's genetic characteristics differ markedly from 
other grizzly bear populations.

Conclusion of Distinct Population Segment Review

    Based on the best available scientific information, as described 
above, we find that the Yellowstone grizzly bear population is discrete 
from other grizzly populations and significant to the remainder of the 
taxon (i.e., U. a. horribilis). Because the Yellowstone grizzly bear 
population is discrete and significant, it warrants recognition as a 
DPS under the ESA. Therefore, the remainder of this proposed rule will 
focus on the Yellowstone DPS.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4 of the ESA and regulations promulgated to implement the 
listing provisions of the ESA (50 CFR part 424) set forth the 
procedures for listing, reclassifying, and delisting species. A species 
may be delisted, according to 50 CFR 424.11(d), if the best scientific 
and commercial data available demonstrate that the species is no longer 
endangered or threatened because of (1) Extinction; (2) recovery; or 
(3) error in the original data used for classification of the species. 
The analysis for a delisting due to recovery must be based on the five 
factors outlined in section 4(a)(1) of the ESA. This analysis must 
include an

[[Page 69866]]

evaluation of threats that existed at the time of listing and those 
that currently exist or that could potentially affect the species in 
the foreseeable future once the protections of the ESA are removed.
    A recovered population is one that no longer meets the ESA's 
definition of threatened or endangered. The ESA defines an endangered 
species as one that is in danger of extinction throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range. A threatened species is one that is 
likely to become an endangered species in the foreseeable future 
throughout all or a significant portion of its range.
    The ESA defines ``species'' to also include any subspecies or, for 
vertebrates, any DPS. Because the Yellowstone grizzly bear population 
is discrete and significant, as defined above, it warrants recognition 
as a DPS under the ESA and our policy (61 FR 4722). Therefore, our 
analysis only covers the DPS.
    For the purposes of this proposed rule, ``foreseeable future'' 
shall refer to approximately 100 years. This definition is based on 10 
grizzly bear generations where a single female may take 10 years to 
replace herself in a population. This time period is also commonly used 
in population viability analyses of grizzly bear populations (Boyce 
1995; Saether et al. 1998; Boyce et al. 2001).
    For the purposes of this proposed rule, the ``range'' of this 
grizzly bear DPS is the area within the DPS boundaries where viable 
populations of the species now exist. As previously noted, we have 
defined the overall DPS boundary by existing roads for ease in 
determining its location. Bears occupy or can occupy all suitable 
habitat within the DPS boundary and a few individual bears occasionally 
occupy or pass through the areas we define as unsuitable habitat. 
Suitable habitat provides food, seasonal foraging opportunities, cover, 
denning areas, and security. We have defined suitable habitat for 
grizzly bears as areas having three characteristics--(1) being of 
adequate habitat quality and quantity to support grizzly bear 
reproduction and survival; (2) contiguous with the current distribution 
of Yellowstone grizzly bears such that natural re-colonization is 
possible; and (3) having low mortality risk as indicated through 
reasonable and manageable levels of grizzly bear/human conflicts. 
Unsuitable habitat consists of those areas within the DPS boundary that 
cannot support viable populations of grizzly bears.
    The Statutory standard is whether the species is threatened in 
``all or a significant portion'' of its range. Because the grizzly bear 
occupies all of its range within this DPS, we conducted the following 
threats assessment over the entire current range of the grizzly bear 
and throughout all suitable habitat within the DPS.

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of Its Habitat or Range

    Habitat destruction and modification were major contributing 
factors leading to the `listing of the grizzly bear as a threatened 
species under the ESA in 1975 (40 FR 1734). Both the dramatic decreases 
in historical range and land management practices in formerly secure 
grizzly bear habitat lead to the 1975 listing (40 FR 1734). To address 
this source of population decline, the Study Team was created in 1973 
to collect, manage, analyze, and distribute science-based information 
regarding habitat and demographic parameters upon which to base 
management and recovery. Then, in 1983, the Interagency Grizzly Bear 
Committee was created to coordinate management efforts across multiple 
Federal lands and different States within the various Recovery Zones 
ultimately working to achieve recovery of the grizzly bear in the lower 
48 States. Its objective was to change land management practices on 
Federal lands that supported grizzly bear populations at the time of 
listing to provide security and maintain or improve habitat conditions 
for the grizzly bear. Since 1986, National Forest and National Park 
plans have incorporated the Guidelines for Management Involving Grizzly 
Bears in the Yellowstone area (USDA 1986) to manage grizzly bear 
habitat in the Yellowstone Recovery Zone. The Service considers 
implementation of these Guidelines to be a primary factor contributing 
to the Yellowstone grizzly bear population's recovery in the last 2 
    Management improvements made as a result of the Guidelines include, 
but are not limited to--(1) Federal and State agency coordination to 
produce nuisance bear guidelines that allow a quick response to resolve 
and minimize grizzly bear/human confrontations; (2) reduced motorized 
access route densities through restrictions, decommissioning, and 
closures; (3) highway design considerations to facilitate population 
connectivity; (4) closure of some important habitat areas to all human 
access in National Parks during certain seasons that are particularly 
important to grizzlies; (5) closure of many areas in the GYA to oil and 
gas leasing or implementing restrictions such as no surface occupancy; 
(6) elimination of two sheep allotments on the Caribou-Targhee National 
Forest in 1998, resulting in a 46 percent decrease in total sheep 
animal months inside the Yellowstone Recovery Area; and (7) expanded 
Information and Education (IE) programs in the Yellowstone Recovery 
Area to help reduce the number of grizzly mortalities caused by big-
game hunters. Overall, adherence to the Guidelines has changed land 
management practices on Federal lands to provide security and to 
maintain or improve habitat conditions for the grizzly bear. 
Implementation of these Guidelines has led to the successful rebound of 
the Yellowstone grizzly bear population, allowing it to significantly 
increase in size and distribution since its listing in 1975.
    In 2002, an interagency group representing pertinent State and 
Federal parties released the draft Final Conservation Strategy for the 
Grizzly Bear in the Greater Yellowstone Area to guide management and 
monitoring of the habitat and population of Yellowstone grizzly bears 
after delisting. The Strategy identifies and provides a framework for 
managing two areas, the PCA and adjacent areas of suitable habitat 
where occupancy by grizzly bears is anticipated. What follows is an 
assessment of present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of current suitable habitat, or range, in both of these 
    Habitat Management within the Primary Conservation Area: As per the 
Strategy and the habitat-based recovery criteria discussed above, the 
PCA will be a core security area for grizzlies where human impacts on 
habitat conditions will be maintained at or below levels that existed 
in 1998 (Service 2003). The 1998 baseline for habitat standards was 
chosen because several studies (Boyce et al. 2001; Schwartz et al. 
2005) showed that the Yellowstone grizzly bear population was 
increasing at a rate of 4 to 7 percent per year between 1983 and 2001, 
and 1998 was within the time that this rate of increase was occurring. 
Because levels of secure habitat and developed sites remained 
relatively constant in the 10 years preceding 1998 (USFS 2004), the 
selection of 1998 assured that the habitat conditions that allowed this 
rate of population increase would be maintained. For each of the 40 
bear management subunits, the 1998 baseline was determined through a 
GIS analysis of the amount of secure habitat, open and closed road 
densities, the number and capacity of livestock allotments, the number 
of developed sites on public lands, and habitat effectiveness.

[[Page 69867]]

    Secure habitat refers to those areas with no motorized access that 
are at least 4 hectares (10 acres) in size and more than 500 meters 
(550 yards) from a motorized access route or reoccurring helicopter 
flight line (USFS 2004). Grizzly bear habitat security is primarily 
achieved by managing motorized access which--(1) minimizes human 
interaction and reduces potential grizzly bear mortality risk, (2) 
minimizes displacement from important habitat, (3) minimizes 
habituation to humans, and (4) provides habitat where energetic 
requirements can be met with limited disturbance from humans (Mattson 
et al. 1987; McLellan and Shackleton 1988; McLellan 1989; Mace et al. 
1996; Mattson et al. 1996). Secure habitat is especially important to 
the survival and reproductive success of grizzly bears, especially 
adult female grizzly bears (Mattson et al. 1987; Interagency Grizzly 
Bear Committee 1994). In the 1998 baseline, secure habitat comprised 
45.4 to 100 percent of the total area within a given subunit with an 
average of 86.2 percent throughout the entire PCA (Table 2 in Appendix 
F of the Strategy). These levels of secure habitat have been 
successfully maintained and will continue to be maintained and 
improved, where possible, as directed by the Conservation Strategy 
(Service 2003).
    Open road densities of more than 1.6 km/2.6 sq km (1 mi/sq mi) were 
calculated for two seasons to account for seasonal road closures. The 
percentage of land within each subunit containing road density values 
higher than 1.6 km/2.6 sq km (1 mi/sq mi) in 1998 ranged from 0 to 46.1 
percent, although the average for all subunits was only 10.7 percent. 
Lands containing total road density values of more than 3.2 km/2.6 sq 
km (2 mi/sq mi) in 1998 comprised 0 to 28.1 percent of the total area 
within each subunit, with the average for all subunits of 5.3 percent 
(Table 2 in Appendix F of the Strategy). These levels of motorized 
access have been effectively maintained or improved from 1998 levels, 
as per the habitat-based recovery criteria. The Conservation Strategy 
assures that they will continue to be managed at 1998 levels if this 
proposed delisting action is finalized (Service 2003).
    Several subunits within the boundaries of the Gallatin National 
Forest (Henry's Lake No. 2, Gallatin No. 3, and Madison No. 2) within 
the PCA have been identified as needing improvement in access 
parameters. However, the high road density values and subsequently low 
levels of secure habitat in these subunits is primarily due to 
motorized access on private land (Appendix G in the Strategy). The 
Gallatin National Forest is working on several land exchange efforts 
with private parties in these subunits. These land exchanges allow 
management of the roads on these private parcels and increase the 
secure habitat in these subunits.
    All the above-mentioned subunits on the Gallatin National Forest 
have the potential for improvement in the long term. The timing and 
amount of improvement will be determined through the Gallatin National 
Forest travel management planning process. The Travel Plan will amend 
the Gallatin Forest Plan and set a 1998 baseline for access values in 
these subunits. This travel Plan for the Gallatin National Forest is in 
revision as of 2005.
    The Gallatin Range Consolidation and Protection Act of 1993 (Pub. 
L. 103-91) and the Gallatin Range Consolidation Act of 1998 (Pub. L. 
105-267) will result in trading timber for land in the Gallatin No. 3 
and Hilgard No. 1 subunits. The private land involved will become 
public land under the jurisdiction of the Gallatin National Forest. In 
order to complete the exchange, access values in these two subunits 
will temporarily decline below 1998 values. However, upon completion of 
this sale and land exchange, secure habitat and motorized access route 
density in these subunits will improve from the 1998 baseline (see 
Appendix F in the Strategy).
    The Strategy identified several subunits within the boundaries of 
the Targhee National Forest within the PCA in need of improvement in 
terms of motorized access (Plateau No. 1, Plateau No. 2, and Henry's 
Lake No. 1). The Strategy states that upon full implementation of the 
access management changes in the revised 1997 Targhee Forest Plan, 
those subunits will have acceptable levels of road densities and secure 
habitat due to the decommissioning of roughly 433 miles of roads within 
the PCA (Service 2003). As of June 2005, the Targhee National Forest 
has completed approximately 80 percent of this decommissioning work 
with the remaining 20 percent likely to be completed in 2005, after 
site-specific National Environmental Policy Act analyses are completed 
(USDA Forest Service 2005). The 1998 baseline (see Appendix F in the 
Strategy) for these subunits was modified to reflect increased road 
closures with the full implementation of the 1997 Targhee Forest Plan. 
Henry's Lake subunit No. 1 still has high levels of motorized access 
density and a low secure habitat level due to motorized access routes 
on private lands (see Appendix F of the Strategy).
    Habitat standards described in the Strategy regarding livestock 
require that the number of commercial livestock allotments and 
permitted sheep animal months within the PCA not increase above 1998 
levels (Service 2003). Livestock allotments, particularly sheep 
allotments, decrease habitat security (i.e., habitat effectiveness) as 
grizzly bears occupying lands with sheep are more likely to come into 
conflict with these sheep. This increase in encounters between bears 
and livestock or their human owners decreases survival rates of grizzly 
bears in areas of active sheep allotments as repeat depredators are 
removed from the population. Additionally, sheep and cattle can compete 
directly to some degree with grizzly bears during late spring and early 
summer for desired foods such as grasses, sedges, and forbs (Jonkel 
1980). Due to the higher prevalence of grizzly bear conflicts 
associated with sheep grazing, existing sheep allotments will be phased 
out as the opportunity arises with willing permittees.
    A total of 88 livestock allotments existed inside the PCA in 1998. 
Of these 1998 allotments within the PCA, there were 71 active and 2 
vacant cattle allotments and 11 active and 4 vacant sheep allotments 
with a total of 17,279 animal months for sheep (Service 2003). Sheep 
animal months are calculated by multiplying the permitted number of 
animals by the permitted number of months. Any use of vacant allotments 
will only be permitted after an analysis is completed to evaluate 
impacts on grizzly bears. Since 1998, the Caribou-Targhee National 
Forest has closed five sheep allotments within the PCA while the 
Shoshone National Forest has closed two sheep allotments (USDA Forest 
Service 2005). This has resulted in a reduction of 7,889 sheep animal 
months under the total calculated for 1998 within the PCA and is a 
testament to the commitment land management agencies have to the 
ongoing success of the grizzly bear population in the Yellowstone area. 
As of 2005, there are a total of four active sheep allotments within 
the PCA: Two on Targhee National Forest and two on the Gallatin 
National Forest. The permittee of the two allotments on the Gallatin 
National Forest has agreed to waive the grazing permit back to the 
Gallatin National Forest without preference. The Gallatin National 
Forest plans to close these two allotments along with three other 
vacant allotments when they revise their current Forest Plan. This 
Forest Plan revision process is scheduled to be

[[Page 69868]]

completed by 2010 (USDA Forest Service 2005).
    The National Parks and National Forests within the PCA will manage 
developed sites at 1998 levels within each bear management subunit, 
with some exceptions for administrative and maintenance needs. 
Developed sites refer to sites on public land developed or improved for 
human use or resource development. Examples include campgrounds, 
trailheads, lodges, summer homes, restaurants, visitor centers, oil and 
gas exploratory wells, production wells, and work camps. The primary 
concerns related to developed sites are direct mortality from bear/
human encounters, food conditioning, and habituation of bears to humans 
(Mattson et al. 1987). Habituation occurs when grizzly bears encounter 
humans or developed sites frequently, and without negative 
consequences, so that the bears no longer avoid humans and areas of 
human activity. Habituation does not necessarily involve human-related 
food sources. Food conditioning occurs when grizzly bears receive 
human-related sources of food and thereafter seek out humans and human 
use areas as feeding sites. In areas of suitable habitat inside the 
PCA, the NPS and the USFS enforce food storage rules aimed at 
decreasing grizzly bear access to human foods. These regulations will 
continue to be enforced and will be applied to all suitable habitat 
within the Yellowstone DPS boundaries.
    Gunther (1994) noted that grizzly bear management in Yellowstone 
National Park has shifted from problems involving food-conditioned 
bears to problems involving habituated (but not food-conditioned) bears 
seeking natural foods within developed areas or along roadsides. New or 
expanded developed sites can impact bears through temporary or 
permanent habitat loss and displacement, increased length of time of 
human use, increased human disturbance to surrounding areas, and, 
potentially unsecured bear attractants.
    Developed sites on public lands are currently inventoried in 
existing GIS databases and are input in the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear 
Cumulative Effects Model. As of 1998, there were 598 developed sites on 
public land within the PCA (USDA Forest Service 2005). All changes in 
developed sites since 1998 have been evaluated against the baseline and 
have been determined acceptable under the standard for developed sites 
identified in the Strategy (Service 2003). For a new developed site to 
be determined acceptable, it must be demonstrated that it will have no 
effect on grizzly bears. For example, a cell phone tower would fit this 
criteria because there is no human occupancy, nor human attractants 
such as garbage or other potential food sources. However, campgrounds, 
trailheads, lodges, summer homes, restaurants, visitor centers, oil and 
gas exploratory wells, production wells, and work camps would not be 
considered acceptable. No changes in the 1998 baseline have occurred in 
terms of site developments.
    Management of oil, gas, mining, and timber development also are 
tracked as part of the developed site monitoring effort. There were no 
oil and gas leases inside the PCA as of 1998. There are approximately 
552 sq km (213 sq mi) of secure habitat potentially available for oil, 
gas, or timber projects within the PCA. This comprises only 2 percent 
of all suitable habitat within the PCA. Additionally, 1,354 mining 
claims existed in 10 of the subunits inside the PCA (Table 1 in 
Appendix F of the Strategy), but only 27 of these mining claims had 
operating plans. These operating plans are included in the 1998 
developed site baseline. Under the conditions of the Strategy, any new 
project will be approved only if it conforms to secure habitat and 
developed site standards (Service 2003). For instance, any project that 
reduces the amount of secure habitat permanently will have to provide 
replacement secure habitat of equivalent habitat quality (as measured 
by the Cumulative Effects Model or equivalent technology) and any 
change in developed sites will require mitigation equivalent to the 
type and extent of the impact. For projects that temporarily change the 
amount of secure habitat, only one project is allowed in any subunit at 
any time. Mitigation of any project will occur within the same subunit 
and will be proportional to the type and extent of the project.
    Finally, the Service established a habitat effectiveness baseline 
by documenting habitat effectiveness values using the Cumulative 
Effects Model and 1998 habitat data (Service 2003). Habitat 
effectiveness values reflect the relative amount of energy (derived 
from natural foods) that is available to grizzly bears given their 
response to human activities. Important foods are key habitat-based 
criteria. The inverse relationship between whitebark pine cone 
production and grizzly conflicts in the Yellowstone Ecosystem has been 
documented (Mattson et al. 1992; Knight and Blanchard 1995; Gunther et 
al. 1997, 2004). However, the relationship between other important 
foods such as spring ungulate carcasses, cutworm moths, and cutthroat 
trout is not as clear cut. Therefore, it is important to monitor foods 
and continue to relate major food abundance to demographics and human/
bear conflicts. Monitoring habitat effectiveness using the Cumulative 
Effects Model is valuable in understanding and maintaining important 
habitats for grizzly bears. Should we finalize delisting, the Study 
Team would continue coordinating with the National Forests and National 
Parks within the PCA to update and evaluate habitat effectiveness 
against the 1998 baseline.
    To establish the 1998 baseline for habitat effectiveness values, 
the Forest Service calculated habitat effectiveness within each subunit 
for four important bear seasons: Spring (March 1-May 15); estrus (May 
16-July 15); early hyperphagia (July 16-August 31); and late 
hyperphagia (September 1-November 30) (Table 6 in Appendix F of the 
Strategy). High habitat effectiveness values during estrus are 
associated with cutthroat trout spawning streams. Similarly, high 
habitat effectiveness values during early hyperphagia and late 
hyperphagia are associated with moth aggregation sites and whitebark 
pine, respectively. Habitat effectiveness values also are directly 
influenced by the amount of secure habitat in a subunit. This 
combination of the distribution and abundance of natural foods and the 
distribution and abundance of human activities produces relative values 
indicative of how effective a certain subunit is at supporting grizzly 
bear growth, reproduction, and survival. As such, values varied widely 
among seasons and across seasons within subunits (Table 6 in Appendix F 
of the Strategy). Because the National Park Service and the Forest 
Service have not changed levels of road densities, secure habitat, 
developed sites, or livestock allotments except to improve upon the 
1998 baseline, the 1998 habitat effectiveness values remain applicable. 
At this point, habitat effectiveness values have remained at sufficient 
levels to support grizzly bears since other more frequently measured 
and monitored habitat baseline (such as road densities, secure habitat, 
site development, and livestock allotments) have not changed. If this 
rule is finalized and the Strategy is implemented, the USFS could 
measure changes in seasonal habitat effectiveness values in each Bear 
Management Unit and subunit by regular application of the Cumulative 
Effects Model or best available system and compare outputs with the 
1998 baseline values (Service

[[Page 69869]]

2003). The Cumulative Effects Model databases would be reviewed 
annually and updated as needed (Service 2003).
    The Strategy calls for maintaining or improving the existing 
habitat effectiveness values in secure habitat in each subunit (Service 
2003). Private land development would also be monitored and linked to 
numbers of human/bear conflicts, causes of human/bear conflicts, and 
distribution of human/bear conflicts so as to direct management efforts 
to improve food supply and minimize bear/human conflicts in such areas.
    Within the PCA, each National Forest and National Park would 
monitor adherence to the secure habitat, developed site, and livestock 
standards inside the PCA, as established by the Strategy (Service 
2003). If we finalize delisting, the Study Team would monitor habitat 
effectiveness and track any changes to the habitat from fire, insects, 
and disease, and other human activities not measured by the habitat 
standard monitoring efforts. The agencies will measure changes in 
seasonal habitat value and effectiveness in each bear management unit 
and subunit by regular application of the Cumulative Effects Model or 
the best available system, and compare outputs to the 1998 baseline. 
These databases incorporate information regarding vegetation, the 
abundance and distribution of the four major bear foods, location, 
duration, and intensity of use for motorized access routes, non-
motorized access routes, developed sites, and front-country and back-
country dispersed uses. The Study Team would review Cumulative Effects 
Model databases annually to refine and verify Cumulative Effects Model 
assumptions and update them as needed to reflect changes in intensity 
or duration of human use. The multi-agency Yellowstone Grizzly 
Coordinating Committee (hereafter referred to as the Coordinating 
Committee) may review and revise habitat standards based on the best 
available science after appropriate public processes have been 
conducted by the affected land management agencies.
    To prevent habitat fragmentation and degradation, the Strategy 
requires that all road construction projects in suitable habitat 
throughout the entire GYA (both inside and outside of the PCA) evaluate 
the impacts of the project on grizzly habitat connectivity during the 
NEPA analysis process (Service 2003). By identifying areas used by 
grizzly bears, officials can mitigate potential impacts from road 
construction both during and after a project. Federal agencies would 
identify important crossing areas by collecting information about known 
bear crossings, bear sightings, ungulate road mortality data, bear home 
range analyses, and locations of game trails. Potential advantages of 
this requirement include reduction of grizzly bear mortality due to 
vehicle collisions, access to seasonal habitats, maintenance of 
traditional dispersal routes, and decreased fragmentation of individual 
home ranges. For example, work crews would place temporary work camps 
in areas with lower risk of displacing grizzly bears and food and 
garbage will be kept in bear-proof containers. Highway planners would 
incorporate warning signs and crossing structures such as culverts or 
underpasses into projects when possible to facilitate safe highway 
crossings by wildlife.
    Suitable Habitat: Because we used easily recognized boundaries to 
delineate the Yellowstone DPS, the DPS includes both suitable and 
unsuitable habitat (Figure 1, above). For the purposes of this proposed 
rule, suitable habitat is considered the area within the DPS boundaries 
where viable populations of the species now exist or are capable of 
being supported in the foreseeable future. Suitable habitat provides 
food, seasonal foraging opportunities, cover, denning areas, and 
security. We have defined suitable habitat for grizzly bears as areas 
having three characteristics--(1) being of adequate habitat quality and 
quantity to support grizzly bear reproduction and survival; (2) 
contiguous with the current distribution of Yellowstone grizzly bears 
such that natural re-colonization is possible; and (3) having low 
mortality risk as indicated through reasonable and manageable levels of 
grizzly bear mortality.
    Our definition and delineation of suitable habitat is built on the 
widely recognized conclusions of extensive research (Craighead 1980; 
Knight 1980; Peek et al. 1987; Merrill et al. 1999; Pease and Mattson 
1999) that grizzly bear reproduction and survival is a function of both 
the biological needs of grizzly bears and remoteness from human 
activities which minimizes mortality risk for grizzly bears. 
Mountainous areas provide hiding cover and the topographic variation 
necessary to ensure a wide variety of seasonal foods and the steep 
slopes required for denning (Judd et al. 1986; Aune and Kasworm 1989; 
Linnell et al. 2000). Higher elevation, mountainous regions in the GYA 
(Omernik 1987, 1995; Woods et al. 1999; McGrath et al. 2002; Chapman et 
al. 2004) contain high-energy foods such as whitebark pine seeds 
(Mattson and Jonkel 1990; Mattson et al. 1991a) and army cutworm moths 
(Mattson et al. 1991b; French et al. 1994).
    For our analysis of suitable habitat, we considered the Middle 
Rockies ecoregion (Omernik 1987; Woods et al. 1999; McGrath et al. 
2002; Chapman et al. 2004) to meet grizzly bear biological needs 
providing food, seasonal foraging opportunities, cover, and denning 
areas (Mattson and Merrill 2002). The Middle Rockies ecoregion has 
Douglas-fir, subalpine fir, and Engelmann spruce forests and alpine 
areas. Forests can be open. Foothills are partly wooded or shrub- and 
grass-covered. Intermontane valleys are grass- and/or shrub-covered and 
contain a mosaic of terrestrial and aquatic fauna that is distinct from 
the nearby mountains. Many mountain-fed, perennial streams occur and 
differentiate the intermontane valleys from the Northwestern Great 
Plains. Recreation, logging, mining, and summer livestock grazing are 
common land uses in this ecoregion.
    Although grizzly bears historically occurred throughout the area of 
the Yellowstone DPS (Stebler 1972), many of these habitats are not, 
today, biologically suitable for grizzly bears. There are records of 
grizzly bears in eastern Wyoming near present-day Sheridan, Casper, and 
Wheatland, but even in the early 19th century, indirect evidence 
suggests that grizzly bears were less common in these eastern prairie 
habitats than in mountainous areas to the west and south (see Rollins 
1935; Wade 1947). Grizzly bear presence in these drier, grassland 
habitats was associated with rivers and streams where grizzlies used 
buffalo carcasses as a major food source (Burroughs 1961; Herrero 1972; 
Stebler 1972; Mattson and Merrill 2002). Wild buffalo herds no longer 
exist in these areas. Thus, we did not include drier sagebrush, 
prairie, or agricultural lands because these land types no longer 
contain adequate food resources (i.e., bison) to support grizzly bears.
    The negative impacts of humans on grizzly bear survival and habitat 
use are well documented (Harding and Nagy 1980; McLellan and Shackleton 
1988; Aune and Kasworm 1989; McLellan 1989; McLellan and Shackleton 
1989a; Mattson 1990; Mattson and Knight 1991; Mattson et al. 1992; Mace 
et al. 1996; McLellan et al. 1999; White et al. 1999; Woodroffe 2000; 
Boyce et al. 2001; Johnson et al. 2004). These effects range from 
temporary displacement to actual mortality. Mattson and Merrill (2002) 
found that grizzly bear persistence in the contiguous United States 
between 1920 and 2000 was negatively associated with human and 

[[Page 69870]]

densities. As human population densities increase, the frequency of 
encounters between humans and grizzly bears also increases, resulting 
in more human-caused grizzly bear mortalities due to a perceived or 
real threat to human life or property (Mattson et al. 1996). Similarly, 
as livestock densities increase in habitat occupied by grizzly bears, 
depredations follow. Although grizzly bears frequently coexist with 
cattle without depredating them, when grizzly bears encounter domestic 
sheep, they usually are attracted to such flocks and depredate the 
sheep (Jonkel 1980; Knight and Judd 1983; Orme and Williams 1986; 
Anderson et al. 2002). If repeated depredations occur, managers either 
relocate the bear or remove it from the population, resulting in such 
domestic sheep areas becoming population sinks (Knight et al. 1988).
    Because urban sites and sheep allotments possess high mortality 
risks for grizzly bears, we did not include cities or large contiguous 
blocks of active sheep allotments as suitable habitat (Knight et al. 
1988). Our elimination of domestic sheep grazing areas on public lands 
from suitable habitat is based on current conditions. Should the 
grazing management of these areas change in the future it is possible 
that such areas could become suitable grizzly bear habitat. Based on 
2000 Census data, we defined urban areas as census blocks with human 
population densities of more than 50 people/sq km (129 people/sq mi). 
Cities within the Middle Rockies ecoregion such as West Yellowstone, 
Gardiner, Big Sky, and Cooke City, Montana, and Jackson, Wyoming, were 
not included as suitable habitat. There are large, contiguous blocks of 
sheep allotments in peripheral areas of the ecosystem in the Wyoming 
Salt River and Wind River Mountain Ranges on the Bridger-Teton and the 
Targhee National Forests (Figure 1, above). This spatial distribution 
of sheep allotments on the periphery of suitable habitat results in 
areas of high mortality risk to bears within these allotments and a few 
small, isolated patches or strips of suitable habitat adjacent to or 
within sheep allotments. These strips and patches of land possess 
higher mortality risks for grizzly bears because of their enclosure by 
and proximity to areas of high mortality risk. This phenomenon in which 
the quantity and quality of suitable habitat is diminished because of 
interactions with surrounding less suitable habitat is known as an 
``edge effect'' (Lande 1988; Yahner 1988; Mills 1995). Edge effects are 
exacerbated in small habitat patches with high perimeter to area ratios 
(i.e., those that are longer and narrower) and in wide-ranging species 
such as grizzly bears because they are more likely to encounter 
surrounding, unsuitable habitat (Woodroffe and Ginsberg 1998). Due to 
the negative edge effects of this distribution of sheep allotments on 
the periphery of grizzly range, our analysis did not classify linear 
strips and isolated patches of habitat as suitable habitat.
    Although the Bighorn Mountains west of I-90 near Sheridan, Wyoming, 
are grouped within the Middle Rockies ecoregion, they are not connected 
to the current distribution of grizzly bears via suitable habitat or 
linkage zones, nor are there opportunities for such linkage. The 
Bighorn Mountains are separated from the current grizzly bear 
distribution by approximately 100 km (60 mi) of a mosaic of private and 
BLM lands primarily used for agriculture, livestock grazing, and oil 
and gas production (Chapman et al. 2004). Although there is a 
possibility that individual bears may emigrate from the Yellowstone 
area to the Bighorns occasionally, without constant emigrants from 
suitable habitat, the Bighorns will not support a self-sustaining 
grizzly bear population. Therefore, due to the fact that this mountain 
range is disjunct from other suitable habitat and current grizzly bear 
distribution, our analysis did not classify the Bighorns as suitable 
habitat within the Yellowstone DPS boundaries.
    Some areas that are not considered suitable habitat by our 
definition are occasionally used by grizzly bears (4,635 sq km (1,787 
sq mi)) (see Figure 1, above) (Schwartz et al. 2002; Schwartz 2005, 
unpublished data). The records of grizzly bears in these unsuitable 
habitat areas are generally due to recorded grizzly bear/human 
conflicts or to transient animals. These areas are defined as 
unsuitable due to the high risk of mortality resulting from these 
grizzly bear/human conflicts. These unsuitable habitat areas do not 
permit grizzly bear reproduction or survival because bears that 
repeatedly come into conflict with humans or livestock are usually 
either relocated or removed from these areas.
    Based on these factors and subsequent Geographic Information System 
(GIS) analysis, we found there are 46,035 sq km (17,774 sq mi) of 
suitable grizzly bear habitat within the DPS boundaries; or roughly 24 
percent of the total area within the DPS boundaries (Figure 1, above). 
Grizzly bears currently occupy about 68 percent of that suitable 
habitat (31,481 sq km (12,155 sq mi)) (Schwartz et al. 2002; Schwartz 
2005, unpublished data). It is important to note that the current 
grizzly bear distribution shown in Figure 1 does not mean that equal 
densities of grizzly bears are found throughout the region. Instead, 
most grizzly bears (approximately 90 percent of females with cubs-of-
the-year) are found within the PCA (Schwartz 2005, unpublished data). 
Grizzly bear use of suitable habitat may vary seasonally and annually 
with different areas being more important than others in some seasons 
or years (Aune and Kasworm 1989). An additional 14,554 sq km (5,619 sq 
mi) of suitable habitat is currently unoccupied by grizzly bears 
(Figure 1, above) (Schwartz et al. 2002; Schwartz 2005, unpublished 
data). These areas would allow for the continued growth and expansion 
of the population within the proposed Yellowstone DPS as grizzly bears 
naturally recolonize them in the next few decades (Pyare et al. 2004).
    Habitat Management Outside the Primary Conservation Area: In 
suitable habitat outside of the PCA within the DPS, the USFS, BLM, and 
State wildlife agencies will monitor habitat and population criteria to 
prevent potential threats to habitat from inhibiting the population's 
viability. Factors impacting suitable habitat outside of the PCA in the 
future may include increased road densities, livestock allotments, 
developed sites, human presence, and habitat fragmentation. Both 
Federal and State agencies are committed to managing habitat so that a 
viable Yellowstone grizzly bear population is maintained (see also 
Factor D--Inadequacy of Regulatory Mechanisms). In suitable habitat 
outside of the PCA, restrictions on human activities are more flexible 
but still the USFS, BLM, and State wildlife agencies will carefully 
manage these lands, monitor bear/human conflicts in these areas, and 
respond with management as necessary to reduce such conflicts to 
account for the complex needs of both grizzly bears and humans.
    Currently, there are 22,783 sq km (8,797 sq mi) of suitable habitat 
outside of the PCA within the DPS. About 10 percent of the population 
of female grizzly bears with cubs occurs outside the PCA (Schwartz 
2005, unpublished data). Of this, 17,292 sq km (6,676 sq mi) are on 
National Forest lands. Management decisions on USFS lands will continue 
to consider potential impacts on grizzly bear habitat and will be 
managed so as to allow grizzly bear expansion in terms of numbers and 
distribution. Approximately 79 percent of USFS suitable habitat outside 
the PCA within the DPS is currently designated a wilderness area (6,799 
sq km (2,625 sq mi)), a wilderness study area (708 sq km (273 sq mi)), 
or an

[[Page 69871]]

inventoried roadless area (6,179 sq km (2,386 sq mi)) (USFS 2004). The 
amount of designated wilderness area, wilderness study area, and 
inventoried roadless area within each National Forest ranges from 56 to 
90 percent, depending upon the forest.
    Wilderness areas outside of the PCA are considered secure because 
they are protected from new road construction by federal legislation. 
In addition to restrictions on road construction, the Wilderness Act of 
1964 (Pub. L. 88-577) also protects designated wilderness from 
permanent human habitation and increases in developed sites. The 
Wilderness Act allows livestock allotments existing before the passage 
of the Wilderness Act and mining claims staked before January 1, 1984, 
to persist within wilderness areas, but no new grazing permits or 
mining claims can be established after these dates. If pre-existing 
mining claims are pursued, the plans of operation are subject to 
Wilderness Act restrictions on road construction, permanent human 
habitation, and developed sites.
    Wilderness study areas are designated by federal land management 
agencies as those having wilderness characteristics and being worthy of 
congressional designation as a wilderness area. Individual National 
Forests that designate wilderness study areas manage these areas to 
maintain their wilderness characteristics until Congress decides 
whether to designate them as a permanent wilderness area. This means 
that individual wilderness study areas are protected from new road 
construction by Forest Plans. As such, they are safeguarded from 
decreases in grizzly bear security. Furthermore, activities such as 
timber harvest, mining, and oil and gas development are much less 
likely to occur because the road networks required for these activities 
are unavailable. However, because these lands are not congressionally 
protected, they could experience changes in management prescription 
with Forest Plan revisions.
    Inventoried roadless areas are currently secure habitat for grizzly 
bears outside of the PCA within the DPS. A USFS Interim Directive (69 
FR 42648; July 16, 2004) which instructs National Forests to preserve 
the ``roadless characteristics'' of roadless areas will remain in 
effect until at least November 2006. State governors have the option to 
submit petitions with management recommendations to individual National 
Forests in their State by November 2006 (70 FR 25653; May 13, 2005). If 
no petitions are received by this time, individual National Forests 
will continue operating under the Interim Directive until they revise 
their Forest Plans to include direction on managing roadless areas. 
Technically, the only management direction given in roadless areas is 
that no new roads may be constructed. However, this restriction makes 
mining activities, oil and gas production, and timber harvest much less 
likely because access to these resources becomes cost-prohibitive or 
impossible without new roads. Potential changes in the management of 
these areas are not anticipated, but are discussed further under Factor 
    An estimated 7,195 sq km (2,778 sq mi) of suitable habitat outside 
the PCA on Forest Service lands within the DPS could experience 
permanent or temporary changes in road densities. Because grizzly bears 
would remain a sensitive species on the USFS Sensitive Species list if 
we finalize this proposed delisting, any increases in roads on National 
Forests would have to comply with National Forest Management Act and be 
subject to environmental assessment considering potential impacts to 
grizzly bears.
    Importantly, all three State grizzly bear management plans 
recognize the importance of areas that provide security for grizzly 
bears in suitable habitat outside of the PCA within the DPS on Federal 
lands. Although State management plans apply to all suitable habitat 
outside of the PCA, habitat management on public lands is directed by 
Federal land management plans, not State management plans. The Montana 
and Wyoming plans recommend maintaining average road densities of < 1.6 
km/2.6 sq km (< 1 mi/sq mi) in these areas (MTFWP 2002; WGFD 2002). Both 
States have similar standards for elk habitat on State lands and note 
that these levels of motorized access benefit a variety of wildlife 
species while maintaining reasonable public access. Similarly, the 
Idaho State plan recognizes that management of motorized access outside 
the PCA should focus on areas that have road densities of < 1.6 km/2.6 
sq km (< 1 mi/sq mi). The area most likely to be occupied by grizzly 
bears outside the PCA in Idaho is on the Caribou-Targhee National 
Forest. The 1997 Targhee Forest Plan includes motorized access 
standards and prescriptions outside the PCA with management 
prescriptions that provide for long-term security in 61 percent of 
existing secure habitat outside of the PCA (USFS 2004).
    In suitable habitat outside the PCA within the DPS, there are 
roughly 150 active cattle allotments and 12 active sheep allotments 
(USFS 2004). The Targhee Forest Plan calls for the closing of two of 
these sheep allotments while the others are likely to remain active 
(Jerry Reese, USFS, pers. comm. 2005). The USFS will allow these 
allotments within suitable habitat to persist along with other existing 
livestock allotments outside of suitable habitat. Although conflicts 
with livestock have the potential to result in significant mortality 
for grizzly bears, with population-level impacts if established 
sustainable mortality limits are exceeded in several consecutive years, 
the Strategy should prevent this. The Strategy directs the Study Team 
to monitor and spatially map all grizzly bear mortalities (both inside 
and outside the PCA) and their causes of death, identify the source of 
the problem, and alter management to maintain a recovered population 
and prevent the need to relist the population under the ESA (Service 
    There are over 500 developed sites on the 6 National Forests in the 
areas identified as suitable habitat outside the PCA within the DPS 
(USFS 2004). Grizzly bear/human conflicts at developed sites are the 
most frequent reason for management removals (Servheen et al. 2004). 
Existing USFS food storage regulations for these areas will continue to 
minimize the potential for grizzly bear/human conflicts through food 
storage requirements, outreach, and education. The number and capacity 
of developed sites will be subject to management direction established 
in Forest Plans. Should the Study Team determine developed sites are 
related to increases in mortality beyond the sustainable limits 
discussed above, they may recommend closing specific developed sites or 
otherwise altering management in the area in order to maintain a 
recovered population and prevent the need to relist the population 
under the ESA. Due to the USFS's commitment to managing National Forest 
lands in the GYA such that a viable grizzly bear population is 
maintained (Service 2003), the Service does not expect livestock 
allotments or developed sites in suitable habitat outside of the PCA to 
reach densities that are detrimental to the long-term persistence of 
the Yellowstone grizzly bear population.
    Less than 19 percent (3,213 sq km (1,240 sq mi)) of suitable 
habitat outside the PCA within the DPS on USFS land allows surface 
occupancy for oil and gas development and 11 percent (1,926 sq km (744 
sq mi)) has both suitable timber and a management prescription that 
allows scheduled timber harvest. The primary impacts to grizzly bears 
associated with timber harvest and oil and gas development are 
increases in road densities, with subsequent

[[Page 69872]]

increases in human access, grizzly bear/human encounters, and human-
caused grizzly bear mortalities (McLellan and Shackleton 1988, 1989; 
Mace et al. 1996). Although seismic exploration associated with oil and 
gas development or mining may disturb denning grizzly bears (Harding 
and Nagy 1980, Reynolds et al. 1987), actual den abandonment is rarely 
observed, and there has been no documentation of such abandonment by 
grizzly bears in the Yellowstone area. Additionally, only a small 
portion of this total land area will contain active projects at any 
given time, if at all. For example, among the roughly 1,926 sq km (744 
sq mi) identified as having both suitable timber and a management 
prescription that allows timber harvest, from 2000 to 2002, an average 
of only 5 sq km (2 sq mi) was actually logged annually (USFS 2004). 
Similarly, although nearly 3,213 sq km (1,240 sq mi) of suitable 
habitat on National Forest lands allow surface occupancy for oil and 
gas development, there currently are no active wells inside these areas 
(USFS 2004).
    Ultimately, the six affected National Forests (the Beaverhead-
Deerlodge, Bridger-Teton, Caribou-Targhee, Custer, Gallatin, and 
Shoshone) will manage the number of roads, livestock allotments, 
developed sites, timber harvest projects, and oil and gas wells outside 
of the PCA in suitable habitat to allow for a viable grizzly bear 
population. Because the grizzly bear will be classified as a sensitive 
species, under Forest Service Manual direction, land management 
activities will be managed so as not to contribute to a trend for 
listing or loss of viability for the grizzly bear. There must be no 
impacts to sensitive species without an analysis of the significance of 
adverse effects on the populations, its habitat, and the viability of 
the species (USFS 2004). Any road construction, timber harvest, or oil 
and gas projects would require compliance with the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321-4331) and the National 
Forest Management Act of 1976 (15 U.S.C. 1600), considering all 
potential impacts to the Yellowstone grizzly bear population and its 
    Rapidly accelerating growth of human populations in some areas in 
grizzly bear habitat within the DPS boundaries but outside of the PCA 
continues to define the limits of grizzly habitat and will likely limit 
the expansion of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population onto private 
lands in some areas outside the PCA. Urban and rural sprawl (low-
density housing and associated businesses) has resulted in increasing 
numbers of grizzly bear/human conflicts with subsequent increases in 
grizzly bear mortality rates. Private lands account for a 
disproportionate number of bear deaths and conflicts (see Figures 15 
and 16 in the Strategy). Nearly 9 percent of all suitable habitat 
outside of the PCA is privately owned. As private lands are developed 
and as secure habitat on private lands declines, State and Federal 
agencies will work together to balance impacts from private land 
development (Service 2003). Outside the PCA, State agencies will assist 
NGOs and other entities to identify and prioritize potential lands 
suitable for permanent conservation through easements and other means 
as possible (Service 2003).
    In summary, the primary factors related to past habitat destruction 
and modification have been directly addressed through changes in 
management practices. Within the PCA, the Service and the Study Team 
have developed objective and measurable habitat criteria concerning 
secure habitat, road densities, human site developments, and livestock 
allotments which will be standards on public lands should we finalize 
delisting. In addition, the Study Team, State wildlife agencies, NPS 
biologists, and USFS biologists and technicians will monitor the 
availability and abundance of the four major foods, and of habitat 
value and habitat effectiveness using the Cumulative Effects Model. The 
Coordinating Committee will respond to these monitoring data with 
adaptive management as per the Strategy (Service 2003). Accordingly, 
the PCA, which comprises 51 percent of the suitable habitat within the 
DPS boundaries and is occupied by approximately 90 percent of all 
females with cubs (Schwartz 2005, unpublished data), will be a highly 
secure area for grizzlies should we finalize delisting with habitat 
conditions maintained at or above levels documented in 1998. 
Maintenance of this area as described above is sufficient to support a 
recovered grizzly bear population.
    In suitable habitat outside the PCA on Forest Service lands, 74 
percent (12,860 sq km or 4965 sq mi) is currently secure habitat, 68 
percent of which (8,737 sq km or 3,373 sq mi) is likely to remain 
secure. Areas outside the PCA contain about 10 percent of GYA's females 
with cubs (Schwartz 2005, unpublished data). Management of public land 
outside the PCA administered by State and Federal agencies also will 
continue to consider potential impacts of management decisions on 
grizzly bear habitat. Efforts by NGOs and State and county agencies 
will seek to minimize bear/human conflicts on private lands.
    A total of 88 percent of all suitable habitat within the DPS 
boundaries (40,293 sq km (15,557 sq mi)) is managed by the USFS or NPS. 
These public lands are already managed and will continue to be managed 
such that adequate habitat for the Yellowstone grizzly bear population 
is maintained. Habitat and population standards described in the 
Strategy must be incorporated into National Parks and National Forests 
management plans before the Service makes a final determination on this 
proposed action (see Factor D--The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory 
Mechanisms). We conclude that the combination of these actions 
regarding habitat will allow for adequate habitat to continue 
supporting a viable grizzly bear population with continued expansion 
into adjacent areas of public land in the GYA.

B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    No grizzly bears have been legally removed from the GYA in the last 
30 years for commercial, recreational, or educational purposes. The 
only commercial or recreational take potentially anticipated post-
delisting, if this action is finalized, is a limited, controlled hunt. 
The States will manage grizzly bears as a game animal, potentially with 
a carefully regulated hunt (for a more detailed discussion, see the 
State Management Plans section under Factor D--The Inadequacy of 
Existing Regulatory Mechanisms). Should such a season be implemented, 
all hunting mortalities will be counted toward the mortality limits for 
the population and will be strictly controlled to assure that mortality 
limits are not exceeded by this discretionary mortality source. 
Significant take for educational purposes is not anticipated. Mortality 
due to illegal poaching, defense of life and property, mistaken 
identity or other accidental take, and management removals are 
discussed under Factor C--Human Predation section.
    Since 1980, three accidental trap mortalities were associated with 
scientific research (Servheen et al. 2004). All three mortalities 
occurred between 1980 and 1982. Since 1982, there has not been a single 
capture mortality associated with research trapping in the Yellowstone 
area spanning more than 468 grizzly bear captures (Servheen et al. 
2004). Because of rigorous protocols dictating proper bear capture, 
handling, and drugging techniques used today, this type of scientific 
overutilization is not a threat to the Yellowstone grizzly bear

[[Page 69873]]

population. The Study Team, bear biologists, and researchers will 
continue implementing these protocols should we delist. Therefore, 
mortalities associated with scientific research will not be a threat to 
the Yellowstone grizzly bear population in the foreseeable future.

C. Disease or Predation

    Disease: Although grizzly bears have been documented with a variety 
of bacteria and other pathogens, parasites, and disease, fatalities are 
uncommon (LeFranc et al. 1987) and do not appear to have population-
level impacts on grizzly bears (Jonkel and Cowan 1971; Kistchinskii 
1972; Mundy and Flook 1973; Rogers and Rogers 1976). Researchers have 
demonstrated that some grizzly bears have been documented with 
brucellosis (type 4), clostridium, toxoplasmosis, canine distemper, 
canine parvovirus, canine hepatitis, and rabies (LeFranc et al. 1987; 
Zarnke and Evans 1989; Marsilio et al. 1997; Zarnke et al. 1997). 
However, based on 30 years of research by the Study Team, mortalities 
in the wild due to any of these bacteria or pathogens are negligible 
components of total mortality in the GYA (Study Team 2005). Disease is 
not common in grizzly bears, has only very rarely been documented in 
Yellowstone grizzly bears (Craighead et al. 1988), and is not 
considered a threat to long-term viability of the Yellowstone grizzly 
bear population.
    Natural Predation: Grizzly bears are killed by other wildlife on 
occasion. Adult grizzly bears kill cubs, sub-adults, or other adults 
(Stringham 1980; Dean et al. 1986; Hessing and Aumiller 1994; McLellan 
1994; Schwartz et al. 2003). This type of intraspecific killing seems 
to occur rarely (Stringham 1980) and has only been observed among 
Yellowstone grizzly bears in the GYA 14 times between 1986 and 2004 
(Mark Haroldson, USGS 2005, unpublished data). Wolves and grizzly bears 
often scavenge similar types of carrion and, sometimes, will interact 
with each other in an aggressive manner. From 1995 through 2003, 
Gunther and Smith (2004) documented 96 wolf-grizzly bear interactions 
and 2 incidents in which wolf packs likely killed grizzly bear cubs. 
Overall, these types of aggressive interactions among grizzly bears or 
with other wildlife are rare and negligible to population dynamics.
    Human Predation: Humans have historically been the most effective 
predators of grizzly bears. Excessive human-caused mortality is one of 
the major contributing factors to grizzly bear decline during the 19th 
and 20th centuries (Leopold 1967; Koford 1969; Servheen 1990; Servheen 
1999; Mattson and Merrill 2002; Schwartz et al. 2003), eventually 
leading to their listing as a threatened species in 1975. Grizzlies 
were seen as a threat to livestock and to humans and, therefore, an 
impediment to westward expansion. Many of the early settlers in grizzly 
bear country were dedicated to eradicating large predators, and grizzly 
bears were shot, poisoned, and killed wherever humans encountered them 
(Servheen 1999). By the time grizzlies were listed under the ESA in 
1975, there were only a few hundred grizzly bears remaining in the 
lower 48 States in less than 2 percent of their former range.
    From 1973 to 2002, a total of 372 known grizzly bear deaths 
occurred in the GYA (Haroldson and Frey 2003). Of these, 272 (73 
percent of total) were human-caused (Haroldson and Frey 2003). Since 
1975, levels of human-caused mortality have remained relatively 
constant (see Figure 4 in Servheen et al. 2004). Although humans have 
been and remain the single greatest cause of mortality for grizzly 
bears (McLellan et al. 1999; Servheen et al. 2004), rates of human-
caused mortality are low enough to allow Yellowstone bear population 
growth and range expansion (Schwartz et al. 2005). Implementation of 
the revised mortality limits ensure that mortality will be managed at 
sustainable levels. Below we consider human predation impacts including 
illegal poaching, defense of life and property; accidental mortality, 
and management removals.
    Vandal killing, or poaching, is defined as malicious, illegal 
killing of a grizzly bear. People may kill grizzly bears for several 
reasons, including a general perception that grizzly bears in the area 
may be dangerous, frustration over depredations of livestock, or to 
protest land use and road use restrictions associated with grizzly bear 
habitat management (Servheen et al. 2004). Regardless of the reason, 
poaching continues to occur. We are aware of at least 27 vandal 
killings between 1980 and 2002 (Servheen et al. 2004). Although this 
level of take occurred during a period where poaching was enforceable 
by Federal prosecution, we do not expect vandal killing to 
significantly increase should we finalize this delisting.
    State and Federal law enforcement agents have cooperated to ensure 
consistent enforcement of laws protecting grizzly bears. State and 
Federal prosecutors and enforcement personnel from each State and 
Federal jurisdiction work together to make recommendations to all 
jurisdictions, counties, and States, on uniform enforcement, 
prosecution, and sentencing relating to illegal grizzly bear kills. If 
this proposed action is finalized, all three affected States will 
classify grizzly bears of the Yellowstone population as game animals 
which cannot be taken without authorization by State wildlife agencies 
(see Chapter 7 of the Strategy). In other words, it will still be 
illegal for private citizens to kill grizzly bears unless it is in self 
defense or they have a hunting license issued by State wildlife 
agencies. States will continue to enforce, prosecute, and sentence 
poachers just as they do for any game animal such as elk, black bears, 
and cougars. Although it is widely recognized that poaching still 
occurs, this illegal source of mortality is not significant enough to 
hinder the continuing growth and range expansion of the Yellowstone 
grizzly bear population (Pyare et al. 2004; Schwartz et al. 2002).
    One way to address vandal killing is to change human values, 
perceptions, and beliefs about grizzly bears and Federal regulation of 
public lands (Servheen et al. 2004). To address the concerns of user 
groups who have objections to land use restrictions that accommodate 
grizzly bears, Federal and State agencies market the benefits of 
restricting motorized access to multiple species. For example, both 
Montana and Wyoming have recommendations for elk habitat security 
similar to those for grizzly bears (less than 1.6 km/2.6 sq km (1 mi/sq 
mi)) and this level of motorized access meets the needs of a variety of 
wildlife species while maintaining reasonable opportunities for public 
access. To address the concerns of citizens who feel that grizzly bears 
are a threat to their safety or their lifestyle, IE programs aim to 
change perspectives on the danger and behavior of grizzly bears (for a 
detailed discussion of IE programs, see Factor E--Other Natural or 
Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence). Another option is a 
limited hunt to foster a sense of ownership and obligation toward the 
grizzly bear. Areas with grizzly bear hunting seasons experience lower 
levels of poaching (McLellan et al. 1999). Hunting is further discussed 
under Factors B and D.
    From 1980 to 2002, humans killed 49 grizzly bears in self-defense 
or defense of others. This constituted nearly 17 percent of known 
grizzly bear mortalities during this time period (Servheen et al. 
2004). These grizzly bear/human conflicts occurred primarily over 
livestock or hunter-killed carcasses, but also at camp and home sites. 
Federal and State agencies have

[[Page 69874]]

many options to potentially reduce these conflicts by modifying human 
behavior (Servheen et al. 2004). By promoting the use of pepper spray 
and continuing current IE programs, many of these grizzly bear deaths 
may be avoided (for a detailed discussion of IE programs, see Factor 
E--Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence).
    Humans kill grizzly bears unintentionally with vehicles or by 
mistaking them for other species when hunting. From 1980 to 2002, the 
Yellowstone grizzly bear population incurred 9 mortalities from 
roadkills and 13 mortalities associated with mistaken identification. 
Accidental human-caused mortality accounts for a total of 9 percent of 
known mortality for this time period (Servheen et al. 2004). Measures 
to reduce vehicle collisions with grizzly bears include removing 
roadkill carcasses from the road so that grizzly bears are not 
attracted to the roadside (see Servheen et al. 2004). Cost-effective 
mitigation efforts to facilitate safe crossings by wildlife will be 
voluntarily incorporated in road construction or reconstruction 
projects on Federal lands within suitable grizzly bear habitat.
    Mistaken identification of grizzly bears by black bear hunters is a 
manageable source of mortality. The Strategy identifies IE programs 
targeted at hunters that emphasize patience, awareness, and correct 
identification of targets help reduce grizzly bear mortalities from 
inexperienced black bear and ungulate hunters (Service 2003). Beginning 
in license year 2002, the State of Montana required that all black bear 
hunters pass a Bear Identification Test before receiving a black bear 
hunting license (see http://fwp.state.mt.us/bearid/ for more 

information and details). Since implementation, no grizzly bears have 
been mistakenly killed by black bear hunters in Montana's portion of 
the GYA (Study Team 2005, unpublished data). In addition, Montana and 
Wyoming include grizzly bear encounter management as a core subject in 
basic hunter education courses.
    The last source of human predation on grizzly bears is associated 
with management removal of nuisance bears following grizzly bear/human 
conflicts. Effective nuisance bear management benefits the conservation 
of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population by promoting tolerance of 
grizzly bears and minimizing illegal killing of bears by citizens. The 
Strategy and the State grizzly bear management plans are the regulatory 
documents that would guide nuisance bear management if we delisted. The 
Strategy is consistent with current protocol as described in the 
Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee Guidelines (USDA 1986), emphasizing 
the individual's importance to the entire population, with females 
continuing to receive a higher level of protection than males. 
Location, cause of incident, severity of incident, history of bear, 
health/age/sex of bear, and demographic characteristics are all 
considered in any relocation or removal action. If we delisted, State 
and Park Service bear managers would continue to consult with each 
other and other relevant federal agencies (i.e., USFS, BLM) before any 
nuisance bear management decision is made but consultation with the 
Service would no longer be required. The Strategy emphasizes removal of 
the human cause of the conflict when possible, or management and 
education actions to limit such conflicts (Service 2003). In addition, 
an IE team would continue to coordinate the development, 
implementation, and dissemination of programs and materials to aid in 
preventative management of human/bear conflicts. The Strategy 
recognizes that successful management of grizzly bear/human conflicts 
will require an integrated, multiple-agency approach to continue to 
reduce human-caused grizzly bear mortality.
    The largest increase in grizzly bear mortalities since 1994 is 
related to grizzly bear/human conflicts at or near developed sites 
(Servheen et al. 2004). In fact, 20 percent (59 of 290) of known 
mortalities between 1980 and 2002 were related to site conflicts. These 
conflicts involved food-conditioned bears actively seeking out human 
sources of food or bears that are habituated to human presence seeking 
natural sources of food in areas that are near human structures or 
roads. The increase in site conflicts during the last decade is likely 
due to a combination of encroaching human presence coinciding with an 
increasing and expanding grizzly bear population. These conflicts 
usually involve attractants such as garbage, human foods, pet/
livestock/wildlife foods, livestock carcasses, and wildlife carcasses, 
but also are related to attitudes and personal levels of knowledge and 
tolerance toward grizzly bears. Both State and Federal IE programs are 
aimed primarily at reducing grizzly bear/human conflicts proactively by 
educating the public about potential grizzly bear attractants. To 
address public attitudes and knowledge levels, IE programs will present 
grizzly bears as a valuable public resource while acknowledging the 
potential dangers associated with them (for a detailed discussion of IE 
programs, see Factor E--Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its 
Continued Existence).
    Management removals due to grizzly bear conflicts with livestock 
accounted for nearly 4 percent of known mortalities between 1980 and 
2002 (Servheen et al. 2004). Several steps to reduce livestock 
conflicts are currently underway. The USFS and NPS are phasing out 
sheep allotments within the PCA as opportunities arise. The USFS also 
has closed sheep allotments outside the PCA to resolve conflicts with 
species such as bighorn sheep as well as grizzly bears. Livestock 
grazing permits include special provisions regarding reporting of 
conflicts, proper food and attractant storage procedures, and carcass 
removal. The USFS monitors compliance to these special provisions 
associated with livestock allotments annually (Servheen et al. 2004). 
If we delist, the USFS would continue to implement these measures that 
minimize grizzly bear conflicts with livestock. The Strategy also 
recognizes that active management of individual nuisance bears is 
required. Removal of repeat depredators of livestock has been an 
effective tool for managing grizzly bear/livestock conflicts as most 
depredations are done by a few individuals (Jonkel 1980; Judd and 
Knight 1983; Anderson et al. 2002).
    The Study Team coordinates an annual analysis of the causes of 
conflicts, known and probable mortalities, and proposed management 
solutions (see Servheen et al. 2004 for an example of the form such 
reports will take). The Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee reviews 
these reports and initiates appropriate action if improvements in 
Federal or State management actions can minimize conflicts. As directed 
by the Strategy, if we delist, the Study Team would continue to 
summarize nuisance bear control actions in their Annual Reports and the 
Coordinating Committee will continue with their review (Service 2003). 
The Study Team also would continue preparing annual spatial 
distribution maps of conflicts so that managers can identify where 
problems occur and compare trends in locations, sources, land 
ownership, and types of conflicts. This will facilitate proactive 
management of grizzly/human conflicts.
    Overall, from 1980 to 2002, the Yellowstone grizzly bear population 
incurred an average of 12.6 grizzly bear mortalities per year. Despite 
these natural and human-caused mortalities, the Yellowstone grizzly 
bear population has continued to increase in size and

[[Page 69875]]

expand its distribution in the last 2 decades. Disease and natural 
predation are not a threat to the long-term persistence of the 
Yellowstone grizzly bear population. Although humans are still directly 
or indirectly responsible for the majority of grizzly bear deaths in 
suitable habitat within the DPS boundaries, we have learned that this 
source of mortality can be effectively controlled through management 
and IE.
    We have institutionalized careful management and monitoring of 
human-caused mortality in the Strategy, Forest Plans, National Park 
management plans, and State grizzly bear management plans (see Factor 
D--The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms). In addition, we 
revised our methodology for calculating the total allowable mortality 
limits (see the Recovery; Population and Demographic Management section 
above) to include natural mortalities and estimates of unreported/
undetected deaths, so that mortality in the Yellowstone grizzly bear 
population can be managed at sustainable levels. Because of these 
actions, human sources of mortality are no longer considered a threat 
to the future viability of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population.

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    The lack of regulatory mechanisms to control take and protect 
habitat was a contributing factor to grizzly bear population declines 
(40 FR 31734; July 28, 1975). Upon listing under the ESA, the grizzly 
bear immediately benefited from a Federal regulatory framework that 
included prohibition of take, which is defined broadly under the ESA to 
include killing, injuring, or attempting to kill or injure; prohibition 
of habitat destruction or degradation if such activities harm 
individuals of the species; the requirement that Federal agencies 
ensure their actions will not likely jeopardize the continued existence 
of the species; and the requirement to develop and implement a recovery 
program for the species. These protective measures have improved the 
status of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population to the point where 
delisting can now be proposed.
    The management of grizzly bears and their habitat draws from the 
laws and regulations of the Federal and State agencies in the 
Yellowstone DPS boundaries (Chapter 7 of the Strategy). Forty Federal 
laws, rules, guidelines, strategies, and reports and 33 State laws, 
statutes, and regulations in place apply to management of the 
Yellowstone grizzly bear population (Appendix J in the Strategy). These 
laws and regulations provide the legal authority for controlling 
mortality, providing secure habitats, managing grizzly bear/human 
conflicts, controlling hunters, limiting access where necessary, 
controlling livestock grazing, maintaining education and outreach 
programs to control conflicts, monitoring populations and habitats, and 
requesting management and petitions for re-listing if necessary.
    Recovery of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population is the result 
of partnerships between Federal and State agencies, the governors of 
these States, county and city governments, educational institutions, 
numerous NGOs, private landowners, and the public who live, work, and 
recreate in the Yellowstone area. Just as recovery of the Yellowstone 
grizzly bear population could not have occurred without these excellent 
working relationships, maintenance of a recovered grizzly population 
depends on continuation of these partnerships.
    The Strategy is the management plan which will guide the management 
and monitoring of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population and its 
habitat after delisting. It establishes a regulatory framework and 
authority for Federal and State agencies to take over management of the 
Yellowstone grizzly bear population from the Service. The Strategy also 
identifies, defines, and requires adequate post-delisting monitoring to 
maintain a healthy Yellowstone grizzly bear population (see the Post-
Delisting Monitoring Plan) (Service 2003). The Strategy is an adaptive 
and dynamic document that allows for continuous updating based on new 
scientific information. The Strategy also has a clear response protocol 
that requires the agencies to respond with active management changes to 
deviations from the habitat and population standards in a timely and 
publicly accessible manner. It represents a decade-long collaborative 
effort among the USFS, NPS, BLM, USGS, the Service, the Study Team, 
IDFG, MTFWP, and WGFD. State grizzly bear management plans were 
developed, reviewed, opened for public comment, revised, and completed 
in all three affected States (Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming). These State 
plans were then incorporated into the Strategy to ensure that the plans 
and the Strategy are consistent and complementary (accessible at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/species/mammals/grizzly/yellowstone.htm
). The 

Strategy then went through a separate public comment process before 
being revised (65 FR 11340; March 2, 2000). With the exception of the 
Service, all the other State and Federal agencies which are party to 
the agreement have signed a memo of understanding (MOU) in which they 
have agreed to implement the Strategy. If this proposed action is 
adopted, the Service will sign the MOU prior to finalization.
    The Strategy and the State plans describe and summarize the 
coordinated efforts required to manage the Yellowstone grizzly bear 
population and its habitat such that its continued conservation is 
ensured. The Strategy will direct management of grizzly bears inside 
the PCA, whereas the State plans will cover all suitable habitat 
outside of the PCA. These documents specify the population, habitat, 
and nuisance bear standards to maintain a recovered grizzly bear 
population for the foreseeable future. The plans also document the 
regulatory mechanisms and legal authorities, policies, management, and 
post-delisting monitoring plans that exist to maintain the recovered 
grizzly bear population. Overall, the Conservation Strategy and the 
State grizzly bear management plans provide assurances to the Service 
that adequate regulatory mechanisms exist to maintain the Yellowstone 
grizzly bear population after delisting.
    In areas of suitable habitat outside of the PCA, individual 
National Forest Plans and State grizzly bear management plans apply. 
Should we delist, the USFS would place grizzly bears on its Sensitive 
Wildlife Species list. This requires the USFS to conduct a biological 
evaluation for any project which may ``result in loss of species 
viability or create significant trends toward Federal listing'' (USFS 
Manual 2600). Under the revised Forest Planning Regulations (70 FR 
1023; January 5, 2005), Yellowstone grizzly bears will be classified as 
a ``species-of-concern'' or a ``species-of-interest''. This designation 
provides protections similar to those received when classified as a 
sensitive species and requires that Forest Plans include additional 
provisions to accommodate these species.
    The USFS conducted a NEPA analysis and produced a Draft 
Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS) regarding the potential 
options available and the effects of implementing the Strategy (USFS 
2004). This analysis was undertaken by all six affected National 
Forests in suitable habitat (Beaverhead, Bridger-Teton, Custer, 
Gallatin, Shoshone, and Targhee) and was completed in July 2004 
(accessible at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/species/mammals/grizzly/yellowstone.htm
). The overall purpose of the Draft EIS is to analyze 

the impacts of incorporating the

[[Page 69876]]

habitat standards outlined in the Conservation Strategy and other 
relevant provisions into the Forest Plans of the six affected forests 
to ensure conservation of habitat to sustain the recovered Yellowstone 
grizzly bear population.
    The USFS Final EIS is scheduled to be released in 2005. The 
preferred alternative in the Draft EIS is to amend the Forest Plans to 
include all the habitat standards described in the Strategy. If the 
preferred alternative is selected, the minimum standards in these 
Forest Plan amendments will be the habitat standards required in the 
Strategy. These habitat standards must be appended to current Forest 
Plans before the Service would finalize this rule.
    Under the revised Forest Planning Regulation (70 FR 1023; January 
5, 2005), revisions to Forest Plans will be based upon a ``need for 
change'' approach. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that any changes 
relating to the Yellowstone grizzly bear amendments will be identified 
during the revision process (Aus and Steering Team, in litt. 2005). 
``This means that the management direction developed in the 
amendment(s) will be transferred to the new planning format and will 
not change. The bottom line is that any potential changes to management 
direction in either the current plans or during the revision effort 
will be guided by the agreements reached in the Conservation Strategy 
and its adaptive provisions (Aus, in litt. 2005).
    Roughly 29 percent of all suitable habitat outside of the PCA is 
within a designated Wilderness Area (6,799 of 23,091 sq km (2,625 of 
8,915 sq mi) while another 27 percent is within an Inventoried Roadless 
Area (6,179 of 23,091 sq km (2,386 of 8,915 sq mi)). Another three 
percent of all suitable habitat outside the PCA is considered 
wilderness study area. The Wilderness Act of 1964 does not allow road 
construction, new livestock allotments, or new oil, gas, and mining 
developments in designated Wilderness Areas; therefore, about 6,799 sq 
km (2,625 sq mi) of secure habitat outside of the PCA will remain 
secure habitat protected by adequate regulatory mechanisms.
    The USDA recently published a rule in the Federal Register 
regarding management direction of Inventoried Roadless Areas (70 FR 
25653; May 13, 2005). This new rule replaces the former Roadless Rule 
(66 FR 3244; January 12, 2001) and establishes a formal petitioning 
process that allows governors of affected States until November 2006 to 
petition for changes in the management of Inventoried Roadless Areas. 
Any petitions received will be reviewed by the Roadless Area 
Conservation National Advisory Committee (70 FR 25653, May 13, 2005; 70 
FR 25663, May 13, 2005). If the Advisory Committee approves the 
petition, the affected National Forest must use the NEPA process and 
public involvement to consider the impacts any changes in Roadless Area 
management may have on other resources and management goals. The USFS 
will monitor any impacts these changes may have on habitat 
effectiveness while the Study Team will monitor any increases in 
grizzly bear mortality these changes may cause. In the meantime, the 
USDA-USFS Interim Directive 1920-2004-1 that became effective July 16, 
2004, will continue to regulate activities in Inventoried Roadless 
Areas (69 FR 42648; July 16, 2004). Under this directive, little road 
building or timber harvest can be done in Inventoried Roadless Areas 
until Forest Plans are revised or amended to specifically address 
activities in roadless areas. The Targhee National Forest is exempt 
from this interim directive because it operates under a Revised Forest 
Plan, which addresses the management of roadless areas. Motorized 
access and other management activities are addressed by specific 
Management Prescription direction in the Revised Forest Plan. In 
general, this Management Prescription directs that roadless areas in 
the Targhee National Forest remain roadless. Similarly, a 1994 
amendment to the Shoshone National Forest Plan implemented a standard 
for no net increase in roads (USFS 2004).
    The NPS also is incorporating the habitat, population, monitoring, 
and nuisance bear standards described in the Strategy into their 
Superintendent's Compendium for each affected National Park. This would 
be completed prior to the final rule should the Yellowstone DPS be 
delisted. Because the BLM manages less than 2 percent of all suitable 
habitats, they are not modifying existing management plans. Instead, 
the BLM expressed their commitment to the long-term conservation of the 
Yellowstone grizzly bear population by signing the MOU in the Strategy.
    The three State grizzly bear management plans direct State land 
management agencies to maintain or improve habitats that are important 
to grizzly bears and to monitor population criteria outside the PCA. 
Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming have developed management plans for areas 
outside the PCA to: (1) Ensure the long-term viability of grizzly bears 
and preclude re-listing, (2) support expansion of grizzly bears beyond 
the PCA, into areas of suitable habitat, and (3) manage grizzly bears 
as a game animal, including allowing regulated hunting when and where 
appropriate. The plans for all three States were completed in 2002, and 
grizzly bears within the Yellowstone DPS would be incorporated into 
existing game species management plans after delisting.
    The Eastern Shoshone Tribe of the Wind River Reservation has 
participated at the Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee meetings. At the 
2002 Annual Tribal Consultation organized by Yellowstone National Park, 
the Service formally briefed the Tribe about the Conservation Strategy, 
but the Tribe did not provide input or feedback about the Strategy, nor 
did they sign the MOU in the Strategy. In addition, the Eastern 
Shoshone Tribe has not designed its own Grizzly Bear Management Plan as 
of 2005. However, less than 3 percent of all suitable habitats (1,360 
sq km (525 sq mi)) are potentially affected by Tribal decisions. This 
does not constitute a threat to the long-term viability of the 
Yellowstone grizzly bear population.
    Should the Yellowstone DPS be delisted, the Conservation Strategy 
would be implemented, and the Coordinating Committee would replace the 
Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee as the leading entity coordinating 
implementation of the habitat and population standards and monitoring 
(Service 2003). Similar to the Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee, the 
Coordinating Committee members include representatives from Yellowstone 
and Grand Teton National Parks, the six affected National Forests, BLM, 
USGS, IDFG, MTFWP, the WGFD, one member from local county governments 
within each State, and one member from each Native American Tribe 
within suitable habitat. All meetings will be open to the public. 
Besides coordinating management, research, and financial needs for 
successful conservation of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population, the 
Coordinating Committee will review the Study Team's Annual Reports and 
review and respond to any deviations from habitat or population 
standards, by implementing management actions to rectify problems and 
to assure that these standards will be met and maintained.
    The Conservation Strategy's habitat standards are the 1998 levels 
of secure habitat, developed sites, livestock allotments, and habitat 
effectiveness (Service 2003). The Strategy signatories have agreed that 
if there are deviations from any population goal or habitat standard, 
the Coordinating Committee

[[Page 69877]]

will implement a Biology and Monitoring Review to be carried out by the 
Study Team. A Biology and Monitoring Review will be triggered by any of 
the following causes: (1) A total population estimate of less than 500, 
as indicated by a Chao2 estimate (Keating et al. 2002) of 
less than 48 females with cubs-of-the-year, for 2 consecutive years; 
(2) exceedance of the 9 percent total mortality limit for independent 
females for 2 consecutive years; (3) exceedance of the total mortality 
limits for independent males or dependent young for 3 consecutive 
years; or (4) failure to meet any of the habitat standards described in 
the Conservation Strategy pertaining to road densities, levels of 
secure habitat, new developed sites, and number of livestock 
    A Biology and Monitoring Review will examine habitat management, 
population management, or monitoring efforts of participating agencies 
with an objective of identifying the source or cause of failing to meet 
a habitat or demographic goal. The Study Team will give management 
recommendations to address the deviation. This Review will be completed 
and made available to the public within 6 months of initiation. The 
Coordinating Committee will respond with actions to address deviations 
from habitat standards or, if the desired population and habitat 
standards specified in the Strategy cannot be met in the opinion of the 
Coordinating Committee, then the Coordinating Committee will petition 
the Service for relisting (Service 2003). Although anyone can petition 
the Service for relisting, the Coordinating Committee's petition is 
important because it is requested by the actual management agencies in 
charge of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population. Additionally, the 
Coordinating Committee possesses the resources, data, and experience to 
provide the Service with a strong argument for the petition. Once a 
potential petition is received, the Service will determine if the 
petition presents substantial information. If so, we conduct a full 
status review to determine if relisting is warranted, warranted-but-
precluded by higher priority actions, or not warranted. The Service 
could also consider emergency listing, in accordance with section 
4(b)(7) of the ESA, if the threat were severe and immediate. Such an 
emergency relisting would be effective the day the proposed regulation 
is published in the Federal Register and would be effective for 240 
days. During this time, a conventional rule regarding the listing of a 
species based on the five factors of section 4(a)(1) of the ESA could 
be drafted and take effect after the 240-day limit on the emergency 
relisting has expired.
    The management of nuisance bears within the Yellowstone DPS 
boundaries will be based upon existing laws and authorities of State 
wildlife agencies and Federal land management agencies and guided by 
protocols established in the Strategy and State management plans. 
Inside the National Parks, Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Park 
grizzly bear biologists will continue to respond to grizzly bear/human 
conflicts. In all areas outside of the National Parks, State wildlife 
agencies will coordinate and carry out any management actions in 
response to grizzly bear/human conflicts. In areas within the 
Yellowstone DPS boundaries that are outside of the PCA, State grizzly 
bear management plans will apply and State wildlife agencies will 
respond to and manage all grizzly bear/human conflicts. The focus and 
intent of nuisance grizzly bear management inside and outside the PCA 
will be predicated on strategies and actions to prevent grizzly bear/
human conflicts. Active management aimed at individual nuisance bears 
will be required in both areas.
    The Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming plans recognize that measures to 
reduce grizzly bear/human conflicts are paramount to successfully and 
completely address the issue. The State of Idaho Yellowstone Grizzly 
Bear Management Plan states that such measures must be given priority, 
as they are more effective than simply responding to problems as they 
occur. Similarly, the Grizzly Bear Management Plan for Southwestern 
Montana maintains that the key to dealing with all nuisance situations 
is prevention rather than responding after damage has occurred. The 
Wyoming Grizzly Bear Management Plan also mandates the WGFD to 
emphasize long-term, non-lethal solutions, but relocation and lethal 
removal may occur to resolve some conflicts (all three State management 
plans are accessible at http:// mountain-prairie.fws.gov/species/

mammals/grizzly/yellowstone.htm). The ways in which the Strategy and 
the State plans intend to address preventative measures are described 
in detail in the ``Information and Education'' section in Factor E--
Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence. All 
three State plans allow for preemptive relocation of grizzly bears out 
of areas with a high probability of conflicting with humans or their 
property, including livestock. In general, humans will be given greater 
consideration outside of the PCA so long as human sources of conflicts 
are not intentional. The States are committed to responding to grizzly 
bear/human conflicts in an efficient, timely manner.
    The killing of grizzly bears in self-defense by humans will 
continue to be allowed under both Federal and State management plans. 
State management plans do not allow for legal take of grizzly bears by 
humans unless it is within the designated seasons and limits for 
grizzly mortality. Hunting seasons will not be instituted in any of the 
States until adequate scientific information exists to ensure that any 
such hunting take is within the sustainable mortality limits and the 
impact to the Yellowstone grizzly bear population is negligible. The 
goal of such a hunting season is to reduce grizzly density in areas of 
high grizzly bear/human conflicts so that future management actions 
would be reduced. Outside of the National Parks, individual nuisance 
bears deemed appropriate for removal may be taken by a licensed hunter 
in compliance with rules and regulations promulgated by the appropriate 
State wildlife agency commission. A hunt would only occur if annual 
mortality limits specified for the Yellowstone grizzly bear population 
are not exceeded.
    In summary, these State management plans provide the necessary 
regulatory framework and guidelines to State wildlife agencies for the 
continued expansion of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population into 
suitable habitat outside of the PCA. By identifying the agencies 
responsible for nuisance bear management and responding to grizzly 
bear/human conflicts using a clearly orchestrated protocol, these State 
plans create a framework within which grizzly bears and people can 
coexist. Effective nuisance bear management benefits the conservation 
of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population and State management plans 
adequately address this issue.
    In addition to the Conservation Strategy, National Park 
Superintendent's Plans, USFS Plans, and State grizzly bear management 
plans, more than 70 State and Federal laws, regulations, rules, and 
guidelines are currently in place. We are confident that these 
documents provide an adequate regulatory framework within which the 
Yellowstone grizzly bear population will continue to experience 
population stability, as well as protocols for future management, IE 
programs, and monitoring. In summary, these documents provide 
reasonable assurance to the Service and regulatory certainty that 
potential future threats to

[[Page 69878]]

the Yellowstone grizzly bear population will not jeopardize its long-
term viability.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

    Three other considerations have the potential to affect long-term 
grizzly bear persistence in the Yellowstone including: (1) Genetic 
concerns; (2) invasive species, disease, and other impacts to food 
supply; and (3) human attitudes toward grizzly bear recovery and IE 
efforts to improve these attitudes.
    Genetic Management: Levels of genetic diversity in the Yellowstone 
grizzly bear population are not as low as previously feared, and the 
need for novel genetic material is not urgent (Miller and Waits 2003). 
Because the Yellowstone grizzly bear population is an isolated 
population, declines in genetic diversity over time due to inbreeding 
are expected (Allendorf et al. 1991; Burgman et al. 1993), but will 
occur gradually over decades (Miller and Waits 2003). Experimental and 
theoretical data suggest that one to two effective migrants per 
generation is an appropriate level of gene flow to maintain or increase 
the level of genetic diversity in isolated populations (Mills and 
Allendorf 1996; Newman and Tallmon 2001; Miller and Waits 2003). An 
effective migrant is defined as an individual that emigrates into an 
isolated population from an outside area, survives, and breeds. Based 
on Miller and Waits (2003), the Strategy recommends that two bears from 
the NCDE be introduced into the Yellowstone grizzly bear population 
every 10 years (i.e., one generation) to maintain current levels of 
genetic diversity (Service 2003).
    Federal and State agencies will continue to monitor bears on the 
northern periphery of the Yellowstone DPS boundaries and the southern 
edges of the NCDE and collect genetic samples from captured or dead 
bears in these areas to document gene flow between these two 
ecosystems. To monitor genetic isolation, the Service will establish a 
repository for all samples from the Yellowstone population to document 
any bears moving from the NCDE into the Yellowstone area. Such movement 
will be detected by using an ``assignment test'' which identifies the 
area from which individuals are most likely to have originated based on 
their unique genetic signature (Waser and Strobeck 1998). The Strategy 
dictates that if no movements are detected by 2020, one to two 
grizzlies will be transplanted from the NCDE by 2022 to ensure that 
genetic diversity in the Yellowstone area does not decline below 
existing levels (Service 2003).
    As long as adequate measures to address genetic concerns are 
continued, these issues will not adversely impact the long-term 
conservation of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population or its 
expansion into suitable habitat. Through careful monitoring of 
movements and levels of genetic diversity, the geographic isolation of 
the Yellowstone grizzly bear population will not be a threat to 
population persistence.
    Invasive Species, Disease, and Other Impacts to Food Supply: Four 
food items have been identified as major components of the Yellowstone 
grizzly bear population's diet (Mattson et al. 1991). These are seeds 
of the whitebark pine, army cutworm moths, ungulates, and spawning 
cutthroat trout. These food sources may exert a positive influence on 
grizzly bear fecundity and survival (Mattson et al. 2002) and are some 
of the highest sources of digestible energy available to grizzly bears 
in the Yellowstone area (Mealey 1975; Pritchard and Robbins 1990; 
Mattson et al. 1992; Craighead et al. 1995). Each of these food sources 
is limited in distribution and subject to natural annual fluctuations 
in abundance and availability. Because of this natural variability, 
threshold values of abundance for each food have not been established. 
However, whitebark pine, ungulates, cutthroat trout, and army cutworm 
moths are all monitored either directly or indirectly on an annual 
basis (see Post-Delisting Monitoring Plan section below). Monitoring 
these important foods provides managers with some ability to predict 
annual seasonal bear habitat use, and estimate, prepare for, and avoid 
grizzly bear/human conflicts due to a shortage of one or more foods. In 
response to normal changes in food supplies due to plant phenology and 
responses to weather (e.g., frost, rainfall), grizzly bear annual home 
ranges change in size and extent. By expanding the distribution and 
range of bears into currently unoccupied suitable habitat within the 
DPS boundaries, additional areas with additional food resources will be 
available. These additional habitats will provide habitat flexibility 
for bears to respond to these normal changes in annual food supplies 
and distribution.
    Several factors have the potential to impact Yellowstone Lake 
cutthroat trout populations. In 1994, nonnative lake trout (Salvelinus 
naymaycush) were discovered in Yellowstone Lake (Reinhart et al. 2001). 
Lake trout are efficient predators of juvenile cutthroat trout and, on 
average, consume 41 cutthroat trout per year (Ruzycki et al. 2003). In 
1998, Myxobolus cerebralis, the parasite that causes whirling disease, 
was found in juvenile and adult cutthroat trout collected from 
Yellowstone Lake. The Intermountain West has experienced drought 
conditions for the past 6 years, which has resulted in increased water 
temperatures, lowered lake levels, and a reduction in peak stream 
flows; all of which negatively affect cutthroat trout spawning success 
(Koel et al. 2005). This combination of lake trout, whirling disease, 
and drought conditions has resulted in declines in the Yellowstone 
cutthroat trout population with subsequent decreases in grizzly bear 
fishing activity (Koel et al. 2005). In fact, bear activity (includes 
black bear and grizzly bear use) at spawning streams decreased 87 
percent between 1989 and 2004 (Koel et al. 2005). This decrease 
corresponds temporally with cutthroat trout declines but may not have a 
significant effect on the grizzly bear population because adult 
grizzlies that fish in spawning streams only consume, on average, 
between 8 and 55 trout per year (Felicetti et al. 2004).
    In 2001, several environmental and legal organizations petitioned 
the Service to list the Yellowstone cutthroat trout as a threatened 
subspecies of cutthroat trout (66 FR 11244; February 23, 2001). A 12-
month status review is currently underway and the Service will publish 
its findings when completed. We will consider the results of the status 
review fully when making a final decision on this proposed delisting.
    Efforts to reduce introduced lake trout populations have been 
somewhat successful. The Yellowstone National Park managers have 
removed more than 100,000 lake trout since 1994, and the average size 
of lake trout caught has decreased, indicating that gillnetting efforts 
may be effective. The Yellowstone National Park managers will continue 
to monitor the Yellowstone Lake cutthroat trout population using fish 
weirs, spawning stream surveys, and hydroacoustic techniques and 
continue attempts to suppress nonnative lake trout in Yellowstone Lake 
through gillnetting, capturing on spawning grounds, and fishing 
regulations which target lake trout (Yellowstone National Park 2003). 
The Yellowstone National Park biologists will continue to assess the 
impacts of nonnative lake trout on cutthroat trout populations and will 
provide an annual summary to the Study Team regarding the abundance of 
both cutthroat and lake trout.
    Currently, there are two noteworthy threats to whitebark pine 

[[Page 69879]]

in North America. These are mountain pine beetle infestation and the 
introduction of exotic species (Tomback et al. 2001). Fire suppression 
and exclusion throughout most of the western United States during the 
20th century has allowed shade tolerant tree species to dominate some 
whitebark pine communities thereby inhibiting natural regeneration by 
whitebark pine (Arno 1986; Tomback et al. 2001). These later 
successional whitebark pine communities are more susceptible to 
infestations of the native mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus 
ponderosae) (Tomback et al. 2001). Their larvae feed on the inner bark, 
which can eventually girdle and kill trees on a landscape scale (Amman 
and Cole 1983).
    The introduction of white pine blister rust from Europe in the 
early 1900s also contributes to whitebark pine declines (Kendall and 
Arno 1990; Tomback et al. 2001). While there is evidence of blister 
rust in whitebark pines in the Yellowstone area, the blister rust has 
been present for more than 50 years (McDonald and Hoff 2001), and only 
2 to 13 percent of whitebark pine trees display signs of infection 
(Kendall and Keane 2001). This proportion of infected trees is much 
lower than in whitebark pine communities found in the nearby Bob 
Marshall Wilderness (83 percent) or in communities of other 5-needled 
pines in Colorado in which 50 percent of pines exposed to the fungus 
are infected (McDonald and Hoff 2001).
    Both mountain pine beetle (Logan and Powell 2001; Williams and 
Liebhold 2002) and white pine blister rust (Koteen 2002) outbreaks are 
predicted to increase with increasing temperatures associated with 
global climate change. However, the ultimate impacts of climate change 
on whitebark pine communities are unclear (Kendall and Keane 2001).
    Although tree mortality due to white pine blister rust and mountain 
pine beetles has been low to date in the PCA, some whitebark pine 
stands are infected with blister rust. The extent of the blister rust 
infection and the future effects it will have on whitebark pine on the 
Yellowstone grizzly bear population are unknown. The USFS formed a 
Whitebark Pine Task Group to gather information on the status of this 
tree. Current work on whitebark pine includes planting in several 
areas, cone collection from healthy trees, silvicultural treatments to 
improve growth and establishment, prescribed burning to encourage 
natural whitebark pine seedling establishment, and surveys for healthy 
trees that may possess blister rust resistant genes. Currently, there 
are 19 whitebark pine cone production transects within the PCA, 9 of 
which have been monitored on an annual basis since 1980 (Knight et al. 
1997). Under the Strategy, the Study Team will continue monitoring 
whitebark pine cone production and the prevalence of white pine blister 
rust using current methods (Service 2003).
    In general, grizzly bears are notoriously resourceful omnivores 
that will make behavioral adaptations regarding food acquisition 
(Weaver et al. 1996). Diets of grizzly bears vary among individuals and 
years (Mattson et al. 1991; Felicetti et al. 2004; Koel et al. 2005) 
reflecting their flexibility in finding adequate food resources as 
necessary. Mattson et al. (1991) hypothesized that grizzly bears are 
always sampling new foods in small quantities so that they have 
alternative options in years when preferred foods are scarce. In other 
areas such as the NCDE, where grizzly bears historically relied heavily 
on whitebark pine seeds, distributions and sighting records on the 
periphery of this ecosystem indicate that the population, at least in 
those areas, has continued to increase and thrive since the 1980s 
(Servheen, pers. comm. 2005) despite severe declines in whitebark pine 
communities in the last 50 years (Kendall and Keane 2001). Also, 
grizzly bear use of cutthroat trout has varied dramatically in the last 
three decades (Reinhart and Mattson 1990; Felicetti et al. 2004), most 
likely corresponding to fluctuations in the trout population, but the 
Yellowstone grizzly bear population has continued to increase and 
    Although there is no way to guarantee how the Yellowstone grizzly 
bear population will respond to decreases in whitebark pine crops or 
cutthroat trout, should they occur, we anticipate that they will 
compensate by shifting their foraging strategies to other foods such as 
forbs, fungi, ungulates, and small mammals. If there are reductions in 
any of these foods, they will likely be gradual reductions over 
decades, spanning generations of grizzly bears, thereby making 
adjustments to other foods gradual.
    The Study Team monitors grizzly bear mortality in relation to the 
abundance and distribution of all four of the major foods using 
measurable criteria. For instance, increases in mortality rates of 
radio-collared independent females are measurable criteria that could 
reflect decreases in food availability. Because there were no known 
natural mortalities of independent adult females from 1983 to 2001 
(Study Team 2005), any change in this value will be noteworthy and will 
be investigated thoroughly by the Study Team to determine whether it is 
reflective of a landscape-scale trend or simply an isolated event. 
Significant declines in important foods also could result in reductions 
in cub production and increases in cub mortality over current rates of 
0.362. Because human-caused mortality, natural mortality of radio-
collared bears, and numbers of cubs, and cub survival rates are all 
measurable criteria monitored annually by the Study Team, any 
significant decline in important foods also would be reflected in 
changes in these measurable population parameters. In summary, if 
declines in any of the four major foods occur and, using the best 
available scientific data and techniques, the Study Team concludes 
these are related to significant increases in known and probable bear 
mortalities and that such increases could threaten the grizzly 
population, the Study Team would recommend to the Coordinating 
Committee that they submit a petition for relisting to the Service (see 
Chapter 6 of the Strategy--Implementation and Evaluation, for details 
on this process).
    Human Attitudes and Societal Acceptance: Public support is 
paramount to any successful large carnivore conservation program 
(Servheen 1996). Historically, human attitudes played a primary role in 
grizzly bear population declines through excessive human-caused 
mortality. Through government-endorsed eradication programs and 
perceived threats to human life and economic livelihood, humans 
settling the West were able to effectively eliminate most known grizzly 
populations after only 100 years of westward expansion.
    We have seen a change in public perceptions and attitudes toward 
the grizzly bear in the last several decades. The same government that 
once financially supported active extermination of the bear now uses 
its resources to protect the great symbol of American wildness. This 
change in government policy and practice is a product of changing 
public attitudes about the grizzly bear. Although attitudes about 
grizzlies vary geographically and demographically, there has been a 
revival of positive attitudes toward the grizzly bear and its 
conservation (Kellert et al. 1996).
    Public outreach presents a unique opportunity to effectively 
integrate human and ecological concerns into comprehensive programs 
that can modify societal beliefs about, perceptions of, and behaviors 
toward grizzly bears. Attitudes toward wildlife are shaped by numerous 
factors including basic wildlife values, biological and ecological 
understanding of species, perceptions of individual

[[Page 69880]]

species, and specific interactions or experiences with species (Kellert 
1994; Kellert et al. 1996). The IE programs to teach visitors and 
residents about grizzly bear biology, ecology, and behavior enhance 
appreciation for this large predator while dispelling myths about its 
temperament and feeding habits. Effective IE programs have been an 
essential factor contributing to the recovery of the Yellowstone 
grizzly bear population since its listing in 1975. Being aware of 
specific values common to certain user groups will allow the IE working 
group to disseminate appropriate materials and provide workshops that 
address particular values and concerns most adequately. By providing 
general information to visitors and targeting specific user groups 
about living and working in grizzly country, we believe continued 
coexistence between grizzly bears and humans will be accomplished.
    Traditionally, residents of the GYA involved in resource extraction 
industries such as loggers, miners, livestock operators, and hunting 
guides, are the largest opponents to land-use restrictions which place 
the needs of the grizzly bear above human needs (Kellert 1994; Kellert 
et al. 1996). Surveys of these user groups have shown that they 
tolerate large predators when they are not seen as direct threats to 
their economic stability or personal freedoms (Kellert et al. 1996). 
Delisting would increase acceptance of grizzly bears by giving lower 
levels of government and private citizens more discretion in decisions 
which affect them. Increased flexibility regarding depredating bears in 
areas outside of the PCA would increase tolerance for the grizzly bear 
by landowners and livestock operators. A future hunting season also may 
increase tolerance and local acceptance of grizzly bears and reduce 
poaching in the GYA (McLellan et al. 1999).
    Overall, through expanded IE programs and continued monitoring of 
public opinion, human attitudes will not hinder the continued viability 
and success of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population.
    Information and Education: The future of the grizzly bear will be 
based on the people who live, work, and recreate in grizzly habitat and 
the willingness and ability of these people to learn to coexist with 
the grizzly and to accept this animal as a cohabitant of the land. 
Other management strategies are unlikely to succeed without useful and 
innovative public IE programs. The primary objective of the expanded 
public outreach program will be to proactively address grizzly/human 
conflicts by educating the public as to the root causes of these 
conflicts. By increasing awareness of grizzly bear behavior and 
biology, we hope to enhance public involvement and appreciation of the 
grizzly bear.
    Although many human-caused grizzly bear mortalities are 
unintentional (e.g., vehicle collisions, trap mortality), intentional 
deaths in response to grizzly bear/human conflicts are responsible for 
the majority of known and probable human-caused mortalities. 
Fortunately, this source of mortality can be reduced significantly if 
adequate IE is provided to people who live, work, and recreate in 
occupied grizzly bear habitat. The current IE working group has been a 
major component contributing to the successful recovery of the 
Yellowstone grizzly bear population over the last 30 years. Both 
Federal and State management agencies are committed to working with 
citizens, landowners, and visitors within the Yellowstone DPS 
boundaries to address the human sources of conflicts.
    From 1975 through 2002, as many as 59 percent (135 out of 230) of 
human-caused mortalities could have been avoided if adequate IE 
materials had been presented, understood, and used by involved parties. 
Educating back-country and front-country users about the importance of 
securing potential attractants can prevent bears from becoming food 
conditioned and displaying subsequent unnaturally aggressive behavior. 
Similarly, adhering to hiking recommendations, such as making noise, 
hiking with other people, and hiking during daylight hours, can further 
reduce back-country grizzly bear mortalities by decreasing the 
likelihood that hikers will encounter bears.
    Hunter-related mortalities usually involve hunters defending their 
life or property because of carcasses that are left unattended or 
stored improperly. Grizzly bear mortalities also occur when hunters 
mistake grizzly bears for black bears. All of these circumstances will 
be further reduced with enhanced IE programs.
    Outside the PCA, State wildlife agencies recognize that the key to 
preventing grizzly bear/human conflicts is providing IE to the public. 
State grizzly bear management plans also acknowledge that this is the 
most effective long-term solution to grizzly bear/human conflicts and 
that adequate public outreach programs are paramount to ongoing grizzly 
bear viability and successful coexistence with humans in the GYA. All 
three States have been actively involved in IE outreach for over a 
decade and management plans contain chapters detailing efforts to 
continue current programs and expand them when possible. State wildlife 
agencies have years of experience organizing and implementing effective 
public outreach programs. For example, WGFD created a formal human/
grizzly bear conflict management program in July 1990 and has 
coordinated an extensive IE program since then. Similarly, since 1993, 
the MTFWP has implemented countless public outreach efforts to minimize 
bear/human conflicts, and the IDFG has organized and implemented 
education programs and workshops focused on private and public lands on 
the western edge of grizzly bear habitat.
    Compensating ranchers for losses caused by grizzly bears is another 
approach to build support for coexistence between livestock operators 
and grizzly bears. In cases of grizzly bear livestock depredation that 
have been verified by USDA-APHIS-Wildlife Services, IDFG, MTFWP, or 
WYDGF, compensation to the affected livestock owners will continue to 
occur. Since 1997, this compensation has been provided primarily by 
private organizations, principally Defenders of Wildlife. The Defenders 
of Wildlife's Grizzly Bear Compensation Trust has paid over $112,000 to 
livestock operators within the Yellowstone DPS boundaries and in the 
northern Rockies for confirmed and probable livestock losses to grizzly 
bears. If this proposed rule to delist the Yellowstone grizzly bear 
population is adopted, both Idaho and Wyoming's grizzly bear management 
plans provide for State funding of compensation programs. In Idaho, 
compensation funds will come from the secondary depredation account, 
and the program will be administered by the appropriate IDFG Regional 
Landowner Sportsman Coordinators and Regional Supervisors. In Wyoming, 
the WYDGF will pay for all compensable damage to agricultural products 
as provided by State law and regulation. The WYDGF will continue 
efforts to establish a long-term funding mechanism to compensate 
property owners for livestock and apiary losses caused by grizzly 
bears. In Montana, MTFWP will continue to rely on Defenders of Wildlife 
and other private groups to compensate livestock operators for losses 
due to grizzly bears while MTFWP focuses on preventing such conflicts.
    Overall, these natural and manmade factors--genetic concerns, 
declines in natural food sources, public acceptance, and lack of 
adequate IE programs, if unaddressed, have the potential to affect 
long-term grizzly bear persistence. Through careful monitoring and 
adaptive management practices, the

[[Page 69881]]

Study Team and the States will be able to identify and address these 
concerns before they become problems for the Yellowstone grizzly bear 
at a population level. All of these issues have been scientifically 
researched and adequately addressed so that removing the proposed 
Yellowstone grizzly bear population from the Federal List of Endangered 
and Threatened Wildlife would not adversely impact its long-term 

Conclusion of the 5-Factor Analysis

    As demonstrated in our 5-factor analysis, threats to this 
population have been sufficiently minimized throughout all of the range 
and all suitable habitat within the DPS, and there is no significant 
portion of the range where the DPS remains threatened.
    Our current knowledge of the health and condition of the 
Yellowstone grizzly bear DPS illustrates that the Yellowstone grizzly 
bear DPS is now a recovered population. Counts of unduplicated females 
with cubs-of-the-year have increased (Knight et al. 1995; Haroldson and 
Schwartz 2002; Schwartz et al. 2005a), indicating cub production has 
increased (Knight and Blanchard 1995, 1996; Knight et al. 1997; 
Haroldson et al. 1998; Haroldson 1999, 2000, 2001; Haroldson and 
Schwartz 2002; Haroldson 2003, 2004; Schwartz et al. 2005). Grizzly 
range and distribution has expanded (Basile 1982; Blanchard et al. 
1992; Schwartz et al. 2002; Pyare et al. 2004). Calculations of 
population trajectory derived from radio-monitored female bears 
demonstrate an increasing population trend at a rate of 4 to 7 percent 
per year since the early 1990s (Eberhardt et al. 1994; Knight and 
Blanchard 1995; Boyce et al. 2001; Schwartz et al. 2005), due in large 
part to control of female mortality. In total, this population has 
increased from estimates ranging from 229 (Craighead et al. 1974) to 
312 (Cowan et al. 1974; McCullough 1981) individuals when listed in 
1975 to more than 580 animals as of 2004 (Study Team 2005).
    At the end of 2004, the number of unduplicated females with cubs-
of-the-year over a 6-year average both inside the Recovery Zone and 
within a 16-km (10-mi) area immediately surrounding the Recovery Zone 
was 40, more than double the Recovery Plan target of 15. The Recovery 
Plan target for the number of unduplicated females with cubs-of-the-
year (15) has been exceeded since 1988. In 2004, the 1-year total of 
unduplicated females with cubs-of-the-year within this area was 46.
    Within the Recovery Zone, the distribution of females with young, 
based on the most recent six years of observations in the ecosystem, 
was eighteen out of eighteen bear management units at the end of 2004. 
The range of this population also has increased dramatically, as 
evidenced by the 48 percent increase in occupied habitat since the 
1970s (Schwartz et al. 2002; Pyare et al. 2004). Furthermore, the 
Yellowstone grizzly bear population continues to expand its range and 
distribution today. Currently, roughly 90 percent of females with cubs 
occupy the PCA and about 10 percent of females with cubs have expanded 
out beyond the PCA within the DPS (Schwartz 2005, unpublished data). 
Grizzly bears now occupy 68 percent of suitable habitat within the 
proposed DPS and may soon occupy the remainder of the suitable habitat 
within the proposed DPS. The Yellowstone DPS now represents a viable 
population that has sufficient numbers and distribution of reproductive 
individuals to provide a high likelihood that the species will continue 
to exist and be well-distributed throughout its range and additional 
suitable habitat for the foreseeable future. Both the threats of 
habitat destruction and modification, and low population levels, have 
been directly addressed through changes in management practices.
    As per the criteria laid out in the 1993 Recovery Plan, the 4 
percent mortality limit has not been exceeded for 2 consecutive years 
since 1987. The human-caused female grizzly bear mortality limit has 
not been exceeded for 2 consecutive years since the 1995-1997 period 
(Haroldson and Frey 2004). Due to the conservative nature of this 
standard designed to facilitate population recovery, even when human-
caused adult female mortality was exceeded for consecutive years during 
the mid-1990s (1995, 1996, 1997), the population was increasing (Boyce 
et al. 2001; Schwartz et al. 2005) and expanding its distribution 
(Schwartz et al. 2002; Pyare et al. 2004). Applying the revised 
mortality limits to the 1999-2004 period, these criteria have not been 
exceeded for 3 consecutive years for males, for 3 consecutive years for 
dependent young, nor for 2 consecutive years for independent females. 
The main threat of human predation has been addressed through carefully 
monitored and controlled mortality limits through the State management 
plans. In addition, information and education is a main component of 
the program to reduce grizzly bear/human conflicts.
    The State and Federal agencies' agreement to implement the 
extensive Conservation Strategy and State management plans will ensure 
that adequate regulatory mechanisms remain in place and that the 
Yellowstone grizzly bear population will not become an endangered 
species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant 
portion of its range.
    The threat of overutilization due to commercial, recreational, 
scientific, or education purposes has been removed due to the 
management of grizzly bears through State management plan mortality 
limits. This proposal mentions the possibility, in the future, of a 
carefully regulated hunt; however, should this hunt be formally 
proposed, all hunting mortalities would be counted toward the mortality 
limits for the population.
    Based on the best scientific and commercial information available, 
we have determined that the proposed Yellowstone DPS is a recovered 
population no longer meeting the ESA's definition of threatened or 
endangered. Therefore, we are proposing to delist the Yellowstone 
grizzly bear DPS.

Post-Delisting Monitoring Plan

    To further ensure the long-term conservation of adequate grizzly 
bear habitat and continued recovery of the Yellowstone grizzly bear 
population, several monitoring programs and protocols have been 
developed and integrated into land management agency planning 
documents. The Strategy and appended State grizzly bear management 
plans effectively satisfy the requirements for having a Post-Delisting 
Monitoring Plan for the Yellowstone DPS. Monitoring programs will focus 
on assessing whether demographic standards and habitat criteria 
described in the Strategy are being achieved. A suite of indices will 
be monitored simultaneously to provide a highly sensitive system to 
monitor the health of the population and its habitat and to provide a 
sound scientific basis to respond to any changes or needs with adaptive 
management actions (Lee and Lawrence 1986). More specifically, 
monitoring efforts will document population trends, distribution, 
survival and birth rates, and genetic variability. Throughout the DPS 
boundaries, locations of grizzly bear mortalities on private lands will 
be provided to the Study Team for incorporation into their Annual 
Report. Full implementation of the Strategy by State and Federal 
agencies will allow for a sustainable population by managing all 
suitable habitat.
    Within the Primary Conservation Area--As discussed in previous 
sections, habitat criteria established for the Yellowstone grizzly bear 

[[Page 69882]]

will be monitored carefully and any deviations from these will be 
reported annually. The number and levels of secure habitat, road 
densities, developed sites, and livestock allotments will not be 
allowed to deviate from 1998 baseline measures in accordance with the 
implementation protocols in the Strategy.
    The Study Team will prepare Annual Reports summarizing the habitat 
criteria and population statistics. The Study Team will be responsible 
for counting the number of unduplicated females with cubs-of-the-year 
and monitoring mortality, distribution, and genetic diversity (see 
Appendix I of the Strategy). To examine reproductive rates, survival 
rates, causes of death, and overall population trends, the Study Team 
will strive to radio collar and monitor a minimum of 25 adult female 
grizzly bears at all times. These bears will be spatially distributed 
throughout the ecosystem as determined by the Study Team.
    The Study Team, with participation from Yellowstone National Park, 
the USFS, and State wildlife agencies, also will monitor grizzly bear 
habitats, foods, and impacts of humans. Documenting the abundance and 
distribution of the major foods will be an integral component of 
monitoring within the PCA as it allows managers some degree of 
predictive power to anticipate and avoid grizzly bear/human conflicts 
related to a shortage of one or more foods. Major foods, habitat value, 
and habitat effectiveness will be monitored according to Appendices E 
and I in the Strategy and as described in Factor A, ``The Present or 
Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of Its Habitat or 
Range'' in this proposed rule.
    Outside of the Primary Conservation Area--State wildlife agencies 
will be responsible for monitoring habitat and population parameters in 
areas outside of the PCA. The three State grizzly bear management plans 
detail what habitat and demographic criteria each State will monitor. 
All three States will document sightings of females with cubs and 
provide this information to the Study Team. Additionally, State 
wildlife agencies will provide known mortality information to the Study 
Team, which will annually summarize this data with respect to location, 
type, date of incident, and the sex and age of the bear for the DPS 
    In Idaho, the IDFG will be responsible for monitoring population 
trends and habitat parameters. Outside of the PCA, the IDFG will 
establish data analysis units to facilitate monitoring of grizzly bear 
distribution, abundance, and mortality. Habitat criteria will be 
monitored within each unit but will not be established strictly for 
grizzly bears. Instead, habitat standards will be incorporated into 
current management plans for other game species. However, the IDFG will 
monitor important food sources for grizzly bears including elk, deer, 
moose, Kokanee salmon, and cutthroat trout. The IDFG also will 
encourage and work with other land management agencies on public lands 
to monitor wetland and riparian habitats, whitebark pine production, 
important berry-producing plants, and changes in motorized access route 
density. On private lands, the IDFG will work with citizens, counties, 
and other agencies to monitor development activities and identify 
important spring habitat for grizzly bears, then work with landowners 
to minimize impacts to bears.
    In Montana, the MTFWP will monitor populations using data from 
research, distribution changes, DNA samples, confirmed sightings, and 
known mortalities. The MTFWP will collect and analyze habitat data and 
monitor habitat changes pertaining to key grizzly bear foods, road 
densities, road construction and improvements, and coal bed methane 
activities. In addition, the MTFWP will continue to use Statewide 
habitat programs to conserve key wildlife habitats in southwestern 
Montana, working closely with private landowners to conserve private 
lands via lease, conservation easements, or fee title acquisition.
    In Wyoming, the WGFD will establish grizzly bear management units 
to collect and analyze demographic and distributional data. The WGFD 
will monitor habitat changes, human activities, road densities, and 
construction. Habitat standards will be monitored in a manner 
consistent with those already in place for other wildlife and will not 
focus specifically on the habitat needs of grizzly bears.
    Monitoring systems in the Strategy allow for adaptive management as 
environmental issues change (Lee and Lawrence 1986). The agencies have 
committed in the Strategy to be responsive to the needs of the grizzly 
bear through adaptive management actions based on the results of 
detailed annual population and habitat monitoring. These monitoring 
efforts would reflect the best scientific and commercial data and any 
new information that has become available since the delisting 
determination or most recent status review. The entire process would be 
dynamic so that when new science becomes available it will be 
incorporated into the management planning and monitoring systems 
outlined in the Strategy (Service 2003). The results of this extensive 
monitoring would allow wildlife and land managers to identify and 
address potential threats preemptively thereby allowing those managers 
and the Service to be certain that the Yellowstone grizzly bear 
population is not threatened with extinction in the foreseeable future.

Clarity of the Rule (E.O. 12866)

    Executive Order 12866 requires agencies to write regulations that 
are easy to understand. We invite your comments on how to make this 
rule easier to understand including answers to the following: (1) Is 
the discussion in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of the preamble 
helpful in understanding the proposal?; (2) Does the proposal contain 
technical language or jargon that interferes with its clarity?; (3) 
Does the format of the proposal (grouping and order of sections, use of 
headings, etc.) aid or reduce its clarity; and (4) What else could we 
do to make the rule easier to understand?
    Send a copy of any comments that concern how we could make this 
proposed rule easier to understand to the Office of Regulatory Affairs, 
Department of the Interior, Room 7229, 1849 C St., NW., Washington, DC 

Public Comments Solicited

    We intend that any final action resulting from this proposed rule 
will be as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, we solicit 
comments or suggestions from the public, other concerned governmental 
agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested 
party concerning this proposed rule. Generally, we seek information, 
data, and comments concerning the status of grizzly bears in the 
Yellowstone ecosystem. Specifically, we seek documented, biological 
data on the status of the Yellowstone ecosystem grizzly bears and their 
habitat, and the management of these bears and their habitat.
    Submit comments as indicated under ADDRESSES. If you wish to submit 
comments by e-mail, please avoid the use of special characters and any 
form of encryption. Please also include your name and return address in 
your e-mail message.
    Our practice is to make comments, including names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular 
business hours. Individual respondents may request that we withhold 
their home address from the rulemaking record, which we will honor to 
the extent allowable by law. There also may be circumstances in which 
we would withhold from the

[[Page 69883]]

rulemaking record a respondent's identity, as allowable by law. If you 
wish us to withhold your name or address, you must state this 
prominently at the beginning of your comment. However, we will not 
consider anonymous comments. We will make all submissions from 
organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying 
themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or 
businesses, available for public inspection in their entirety. Comments 
and other information received, as well as supporting information used 
to write this rule, will be available for public inspection, by 
appointment, during normal business hours at our Missoula Office (see 
ADDRESSES). In making a final decision on this proposed rule, we will 
take into consideration the comments and any additional information we 
receive. Such communications may lead to a final rule that differs from 
this proposal.

Public Hearing

    The ESA provides for public hearings on this proposed rule. We have 
scheduled one public hearing on this proposed rule as specified above 
    Public hearings are designed to gather relevant information that 
the public may have that we should consider in our rulemaking. During 
the hearing, we will present information about the proposed action. We 
invite the public to submit information and comments at the hearing or 
in writing during the open public comment period. We encourage persons 
wishing to comment at the hearing to provide a written copy of their 
statement at the start of the hearing. This notice and public hearing 
will allow all interested parties to submit comments on the proposed 
rule for the grizzly bear. We are seeking comments from the public, 
other concerned governmental agencies, Tribes, the scientific 
community, industry, or any other interested parties concerning the 

Peer Review

    In accordance with our policy published on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 
34270), we will solicit the expert opinions of at least three 
appropriate and independent specialists for peer review of this 
proposed rule. The purpose of such review is to ensure that decisions 
are based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analyses. We 
will send peer reviewers copies of this proposed rule immediately 
following publication in the Federal Register. We will invite peer 
reviewers to comment, during the public comment period, on the specific 
assumptions and conclusions regarding the proposed DPS and its 
delisting. We will summarize the opinions of these reviewers in the 
final decision document, and we will consider their input as part of 
our process of making a final decision on the proposal.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This rule does not contain any new collections of information other 
than those already approved under the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 
U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) and assigned Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 
control number 1018-0094, which expires on September 30, 2007. An 
agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to 
respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently 
valid OMB control number. For additional information concerning permit 
and associated requirements for endangered species, see 50 CFR 17.21 
and 17.22.

National Environmental Policy Act

    The Service has determined that Environmental Assessments and 
Environmental Impact Statements, as defined under the authority of the 
NEPA of 1969, need not be prepared in connection with actions adopted 
pursuant to section 4(a) of the ESA. A notice outlining the Service's 
reasons for this determination was published in the Federal Register on 
October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited herein is available upon 
request from the Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator (see ADDRESSES 

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

Proposed Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, we propose to amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter 
I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations as set forth below:


    1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 16 U.S.C. 1531-1544; 16 U.S.C. 
4201-4245; Pub. L. 99-625, 100 Stat. 3500; unless otherwise noted.

Sec.  17.11  [Amended]

    2. Amend Sec.  17.11(h) by revising the listing for ``Bear, 
grizzly'' under ``MAMMALS'' in the List of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife to read as follows:

Sec.  17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

[[Page 69884]]

                      Species                                           Vertebrate population
---------------------------------------------------   Historic range    where  endangered or      Status      When  listed      Critical       Special
          Common name             Scientific name                            threatened                                          habitat        rules

                                                                      * * * * * * *
Bear, grizzly..................  Ursus arctos       North America....  U.S.A., conterminous    T             1, 2D, 9        NA                 17.40(b)
                                  horribilis.                           (lower 48) States,
                                                                        except: (1) Where
                                                                        listed as an
                                                                        population; and (2)
                                                                        that portion of Idaho
                                                                        that is east of
                                                                        Interstate Highway 15
                                                                        and north of U.S.
                                                                        Highway 30; that
                                                                        portion of Montana
                                                                        that is east of
                                                                        Interstate Highway 15
                                                                        and south of
                                                                        Interstate Highway
                                                                        90; that portion of
                                                                        Wyoming South of
                                                                        Interstate Highway
                                                                        90, west of
                                                                        Interstate Highway
                                                                        25, Wyoming State
                                                                        Highway 220, and U.S.
                                                                        Highway 287 south of
                                                                        Three Forks (at the
                                                                        220 and 287
                                                                        intersection), and
                                                                        north of Interstate
                                                                        Highway 80 and U.S.
                                                                        Highway 30.
  Do...........................  ......do.........  ......do.........  U.S.A. (portions of ID  XN            706             NA                 17.84(l)
                                                                        and MT, see 17.84(l)).

                                                                      * * * * * * *

    Dated: November 9, 2005.
H. Dale Hall,
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 05-22784 Filed 11-15-05; 1:00 pm]