Montana Wildlife Federation lauds progress in recovery of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

Grizzly Bear - Ken Herrly2

Today, the US Fish and Wildlife Service proposed removing grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the federal Endangered Species list. The Montana Wildlife Federation is pleased to see progress in recovery of this iconic species and urges state and federal officials to work together to ensure that grizzly populations stay strong over the long term.

“The recovery of the grizzly bear in Montana is a conservation success story,” said Dave Chadwick, executive director of the Montana Wildlife Federation. “When conservationists, wildlife managers, farmers and ranchers, and other interests work together to protect habitat and prevent conflicts, we can bring back an iconic species like the grizzly bear.”

“Now as we move toward state management, it’s vital that we don’t retreat and that we remain committed to the conservation measures that have allowed this iconic species to recover and expand its range.”

Grizzly bears in the region in and around Yellowstone National Park had fallen to fewer than 200 animals in the 1970s. The bear was listed as endangered in 1975, just two years after the ESA was passed. But bears continued to struggle.

In the early 1980s key federal land and wildlife officials joined with state wildlife agencies to adopt strict conservation measures to help bears. These included protecting key habitat areas, implementing food storage rules and proactive steps to avert bear-livestock encounters.

Today there are an estimated 717 bears roaming the three state region in and around Yellowstone. Bears continue to expand their range and grow in numbers as they move into historic habitat in the three states.

Chadwick said while grizzlies have come a long way, it’s important that we keep enacting strong conservation measures so bears can continue to grow in numbers in appropriate habitat.

“Removing a species from the Endangered Species list is not the end of the process, it’s just the beginning. It’s important that we move very thoughtfully ahead with state management and continue all the conservation efforts of the past few decades so bears will keep expanding their range into suitable habitat.”

Contact: Nick Gevock, MWF Conservation Director ngevock@mtwf.org>