Wednesday, April 27, 2016

You Can Write a Comment that Helps Save the Grizzly

Yellowstone Grizzly. Photo by Rick Lamplugh
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) wants to strip Endangered Species Act protection from the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear. We have only until May 10 to comment on the FWS proposal. 

For our comments to be most effective, they should present reasons that show delisting is not a scientifically sound idea. A comment that simply says, “Don’t delist the grizzly!” may be heartfelt, but it will not carry much weight with the FWS. A comment that challenges specific FWS reasons for delisting will be more effective.

Below you will find nine claims that FWS has made to support delisting. After each claim, you will find a short explanation from a scientist or conservation agency on why the claim is not valid. 

I have collected this information and posted it here so that you can use it to make your comment effective. Pick one or two or all nine of these reasons and craft a comment using your own words. Your comment doesn’t have to be a work of art, it just needs to address the flawed science behind the delisting.

If you have other reasons that show grizzly delisting is not scientifically supported, please add them here by writing a comment to this blog. 

Here’s the link to where you can post your comment for FWS to read:

Thanks for taking the time to speak for the grizzly. Happy commenting!

Yellowstone Grizzly. Photo by Mary Strickroth
FWS claim: There are more than 700 grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), and that’s enough to delist them.

The reality: No one really knows how many grizzlies are in the GYE. David Mattson, an ecologist who spent more than 20 years studying grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone, doubts the FWS numbers. “…what you'll hear from the [U.S.] Fish and Wildlife Service is that the population has tripled and even quadrupled in size, and I think that's a gross exaggeration.”

FWS claim: The shortage of cutthroat trout and whitebark pine nuts—two of the grizzly’s primary foods—is not a threat to the grizzly’s long term survival.

The reality: Not so, says Sylvia Fallon, Senior Scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. She told Montana on the Ground: “Yellowstone grizzly bears are an isolated population that is experiencing high levels of conflicts with people and is likely declining in the wake of the loss of whitebark pine, a critically important food source.”

The Center for Biological Diversity says that climate change and other factors have caused key grizzly bear food sources to collapse, and grizzly mortality rates have been increasing. The result is hungry bears roaming outside Yellowstone National Park more often. If those hungry grizzlies lose their legal protection, they could be shot the minute they step outside of Yellowstone.

FWS claim: The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly has recovered enough range to be delisted. 

The Reality: Under the Endangered Species Act, species must be treated as a whole unless FWS can prove that the animals in one area are biologically different than the animals in another area. As reported by Montana on the Ground, “…groups such as WildEarth Guardians point out that the Yellowstone population of grizzly bears is no different from those in the Northern Continental Divide region or the Cabinet-Yakk region.” Therefore, the grizzly bear cannot be delisted in just the GYE.

Yellowstone Science magazine recently devoted an entire issue to the grizzly bear. A couple of the articles show that the population of the grizzly bear has not recovered enough to be delisted nationally either. In North America, grizzly bears once roamed from Northern Alaska south to Mexico and from the Great Plains west to the Pacific Coast.

But by the 1930s, grizzly bears in the Lower 48 had been reduced to less than 2% of their histori­c range. Grizzlies now survive in only 4% of their historic range in the Lower 48. 

The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), a region of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho that includes Yellowstone National Park, has the largest grizzly population in the Lower 48. FWS estimates around 700 grizzly bears live in the GYE and perhaps as few as 800 to 1,000 in the entire Lower 48.  Compare that with the 50,000 grizzly bears that once roamed North America. The species is far from recovered nationally. 

USFWS photo by Terry Tollefsbol
FWS claim: Their agency will stay involved with protecting the grizzly population after delisting.

The reality: The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced it would fight the FWS delisting and hand-over of management to Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. 

HSUS said that if GYE grizzly bears are delisted, the three states have already signaled, in the form of a leaked memo, that they will open up trophy hunting seasons for the bears.  HSUS believes that opening such seasons is a prime motivation for the states in pushing for de-listing. 

FWS claim: The agency will monitor grizzly numbers to make sure they stay at sustainable levels after delisting.

The reality: When David Mattson, an ecologist who spent more than 20 years studying grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone, looks at the future after delisting, he sees the grizzly population tumbling to dangerously low levels. He told Montana Public Radio that if we looked two years into the future “…the grizzly population will be down to 600, at which point, even by [FWS] reckoning there will be no prospect of any sport hunting at all, and that not too long after that we will be below 600, headed to 500, using their methods.”

Climbing back up from this decline will be difficult. Grizzlies are one of the slowest-reproducing mammals in North America, says Roger Hayden, managing director of Wyoming Wildlife Advocates. If conditions are right, a female gives birth only every three years.

In short, FWS will have spent more than 40 years recovering the grizzly population, only to see it squandered in a couple of years of sport hunting.

Yellowstone Grizzly and friends. Photo by Rick Lamplugh
FWS claim: Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming will successfully use hunting to manage the recovered grizzly bear population.

The reality: The Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC) opposes sport hunting of grizzly bears and believe sport hunting is unnecessary for managing a stable bear population. At minimum, says GYC, a delay in the onset of hunting until the states have demonstrated their commitment to maintaining a stable population, particularly given the record high number (59) of bears killed in 2015, seems prudent. The leading cause of bear mortality is conflicts with humans.

FWS claim: Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming will each have a plan for managing grizzlies as each state sees fit.

The reality:  This approach is as flawed with grizzly bears as it is with wolves. The Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC) says that the Yellowstone grizzly bear population should be managed as an ecosystem population, not as separate Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana populations. These three states, along with the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Native American tribes and the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team must continue to coordinate and communicate, with public input, on bear management.

FWS claim: The agency says it looks forward to hearing from the public about delisting.

The reality: A recent national poll on behalf of the Humane Society of the United States and Wyoming Wildlife Advocates shows the following:
  • 55% of voters oppose the FWS proposal to delist grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Only 26% support delisting.
  • More than two-thirds of Americans oppose opening up a trophy hunting season on grizzly bears in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Only 20% support trophy hunting.
  • 50 percent of hunters nationwide oppose delisting of grizzlies. Only 33 percent support it.
  • 62 percent of hunters support a five-year moratorium on delisting. Just 33 percent do not support the moratorium.

FWS claim: The agency claims to look forward to consulting with Native American tribes about the delisting.

Tom Poor Bear
The reality: Fifty federally recognized tribes and the Assembly of First Nations sent formal objections to delisting and trophy hunting to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell prior to the FWS delisting proposal. Native News Online.Net also reported that the Oglala Sioux Tribe presented an eight-page resolution that details spiritual, scientific, political, and environmental objections to delisting.

Tom Poor Bear, Vice President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, sees delisting as a way to allow the hunting of their sacred relative, the grizzly bear. “These so-called state game and fish agencies exist to serve a clientele that is 95% white, 95% male, and many of who kill for trophies. They are the vocal minority, and under the systems that exist through colonialism and patriarchy they have been able to dominate, lie and cheat their way into control.”

Tom Poor Bear concludes: “I warn you from experience gained in many fights with the US government and states, that this is not just about the grizzly bear, it is about the land the grizzly walks upon. If the grizzly is delisted, you will witness a two million acre land grab by energy and mining companies, livestock interests, and timber operations.”

In the Temple of Wolves
by Rick Lamplugh

More than 225 Five-Star Reviews
Amazon Best Seller


  1. A proposal to raise poaching fines in Idaho failed in legislative committee this year. Fines have not been changed since 1999! Undoubtedly there is and will continue to be poaching of all species, including grizzlies, in Idaho. Idaho CANNOT be trusted to "manage" any species.

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  3. These sick people are blood thirsty killers who seriously frighten me! They're abusers in life for-sure to their pets women and children, you know are bullies not real men or true women as it's become. I've met the type he kicked our dog under the table until I cowered from fear and the dog was a large one and a lovely dog. My point which I'm getting to is they are serial killers with guns, literally killers that do unthinkable, horrible things to wolves, bears and other wild life in "The name of OK WTH THEY CALL IT?...Lol. MANAGEMENT Right back down to earth now, sorry, I don't mean to joke make light of our beautiful Mother Earth, Our Wild Life!!! I Propose harsher fines that really sting badly on the killer some real jail time it would undoubtedly make them think twice if these beautiful animals were protected!

  4. The delisting of wolves and grizzly bears is just the start of a horrible future for other endangered species out there. Their reasons for delisting grizzleys are not just flaud but unfounded as well. My personal opinion is that they just want to hunt these beautiful creatures just for the sick fun of it. If the delisting occurs, it would mean possible end of an wonderful species that symbolize the strong and protective spirit of America. I know this isn't much of an convincing argument but at least try to understand the importance that the grizzly bear has on us all and the grief we'll have if they go away. Thank you.

  5. If you want to prove you're a man go into the woods with a camera not a gun.

  6. As far as trapping, killing, hunting bears, wolves and other delisting of endangered species. There should be stiffer penalties and jail time people!!! You need to know that this is a serious matter and I do care about our future and the animals!!!

  7. As far as trapping, killing, hunting bears, wolves and other delisting of endangered species. There should be stiffer penalties and jail time people!!! You need to know that this is a serious matter and I do care about our future and the animals!!!

  8. The way delisting works now is they get delisted one day and hunted the next. As with wolves, Grizzlies will be tormented, tortured and blown into oblivion, we need Grizzlies, we need all the top predators but when you delist, the species will once again drop to dangerous levels and there will be a fast slide into extinction.

  9. Delisting the grizzly isn't scientifically a sound idea at all. They're a keystone species like the wolf. Which helps this country grow and replenish plants, other animals, and the travel industry. I never been so excited then when I seen my first grizzly bear in the wild. There numbers certainly aren't high enough either. They used to roam alot more space then they do now after all so who has the right to claim there's enough? Those who believe in hunting for sport. Those whom I personally can't stand. Start hunting then then suddenly there all gone. Please don't allow this to pass. I want my future generations to have moments with such wildlife. I want more as well.

  10. Why is it that everytime I hear another delisted animal or other horrific sentencing of animals, basically to their deaths, it always comes from the US Fish & Wildlife?! Who is their boss? Who is paying them off - NRA?! We need to get to the bottom of this. We know why the hunters want animals delisted, they have pathetic & empty lives and killing animals is the only way they get their thrills; but what is the goal of the US Fish & Wildlife? Someone is pulling their strings! If we find out that, then perhaps we can fight this at the source! We must find out who is behind all this delistings across the US and other unkind and unfair acts that affect wildlife and go after them!!!

  11. Please keep these bears safe , don't delist them. It's time to protect our wildlife .

  12. I wish people would be more educated about Brown Bears and Wolves. I think that delisting Grizzly and Wolves is a Terrible Mistake...... The area of Yellowstone and neighboring parks can handle the amount of Bears and Wolves.. People have to realize it won't be long before they will be over crowed... But our Mother Earth has Her own ways to help that from happening... When you have a Magnificent Ecosystem as we have in Yellowstone Nature has it's own ways of Balancing Out... If the population gets out of control.. They can start a Lottery system for thinning the over population... And with the money they get from the lottery they can buy adjacent lands to make the park larger... They could have Federal Wildlife Guides Guide the Lottery winners.. and make sure to Harvest only the amount that was agreed to Harvest... W.~ D.

  13. All of our natural predators in many different places on this earth are under attack by people who want to hunt them to near or complete ectinction! Thete is not ONE good reason for trophy hunting! Each predator is at the top of a healthy ecosystem. When humans disturb the delicate balance of an ecosystem, a great imbalance is the result. Grizzly bears were hunted to near extinction in the past.
    The require from three to 10 years to reproduce...therefore their recovery time is v very slow. No one actually knows the exact number of g rizzlies in Yellowstone. But the importance of the g rizzlies is known to science. These iconic bears are necessary to a healthy ecosystem in Yellowstone. ..along with wolves, b obcats, mountain lions and other predators. There will be no good service to Yellowstone by reducing the number of grizzlies and other predators. In fact, as was before mentioned, a great harm wiil be done, as has happened before, to the Yellowstone. Protection for the grizzlies and all other predators should be a top priority! The Endangered Species Act should be kept in tact to do exactly what it was created for in the first PROTECT .! The greed and apathy of SOME who would desire trophy hunting is a great threat in this country as well as in many others. Self-serving trophyvhunters spend great amounts of money so they can kill a beautiful animal and plaster their skins overheads up on a wall! This is who will benefit if the grizzlies and wolves and other predators are delisted! All will suffervif man continues to use and abuse naturally balanced ecosystems! Too many states are driven by trophy hunting individuals! ! More protection and stiffer punishments and larger fees are needed to help preserve the g rizzlies as well as other predators! Forvthe sake of all living, please do not delisted the grizzly bears!! Thank you for your kind and intelligent attention to this very important issue!

  14. Delisting could be a death sentence for these magnificent animals that are a vital part of our ecosystem -- as are all animals that live in balance in the natural environment. We have witnessed this time and again, as promises to successfully manage wild species populations after delisting have failed. To leave this matter to independent states further puts grizzlies at risk. Yellowstone and its wildlife are a fragile environment. The wolf situation shows how ecologically dangerous it is when one species is on a downward spiral to eradication. To propose leaving this issue to hunters in any way is a sure path to quick destruction. We are at a time in the world when trophy hunting -- always inappropriate in my opinion -- threatens populations of wild creatures every where. It has taken a long time to avert the potential eradication of grizzly bears. Do not take giant steps backwards by delisting these animals.

  15. Since I retired, my husband and I have been forced yo leave parks and forests early due to expanded hunting seasons! Hikers, eildlife photographers and bird watchers are expected to visit around the hunting seasons. We pay to visit out parks too! I have never, ever seen a grizzly in the wild. Please continue to protect them, and wolves!

  16. Please save the Grizzlies, protect them as a critically endangered species in the in the list of endangered species Act. By expanding hunting season, you destroy not only the grizzlies but all wild life food chain which you know very well but you yield to political games, supported by hunters, gamers (?) and others profiting by this crime.

  17. Please save the Grizzlies and all animals. There is no need for hunting beautiful wile animals-they have a right to live this was their land before we took it. They deserve to be wild and free!

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  21. humans are greedy as they were thinking they are superiors. They are not thinking when they killing too much of one species, they are making them extinct, i Think we should support more protection for animals that being hunted to much so that the our ecosystem are well balanced

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