U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and her Senate colleagues John Barrasso (R-WY), Mike Crapo (R-ID), James Risch (R-ID), and Steve Daines (R-MT) sent a letter to Environment and Public Works Chair Tom Carper (D-DE) and Subcommittee Chair Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) calling for a congressional hearing on legislation to remove the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear from the endangered species list. The Bush, Obama and Trump administrations all recognized that the grizzly population in and around Yellowstone is fully recovered, yet activist groups have prevented their delisting.
“The story of the GYE grizzly bear should be one of triumph and success for federal, state, and local conservation efforts,” the letter says. “Instead, it has become another story of government bureaucracy and failure that only casts doubt on the efficacy of the Endangered Species Act. In 1972, population estimates of the GYE grizzly were as low as 136 bears. In 1975, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the grizzly bear as a threatened species in the lower 48 states. In 2019, the Service placed the number of bears at 728, and some estimates put the population closer to 1200 bears.”
“The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, the group of federal, state, and tribal scientists and biologists responsible for the long-term monitoring and research of the GYE grizzly, have determined that the bears are at or near the carrying capacity of the park,” the letter continues. “Grizzlies are moving well beyond areas where the bears can exist, causing loss of human life, damage to livestock, and eroding public support for the recovery of this iconic and important species.”
In March, Senator Lummis introduced the Grizzly Bear State Management Act of 2021, which would direct the Secretary of the Interior to reissue a final rule to remove the GYE grizzly bears from the Endangered Species List. It is currently awaiting a hearing from the Environment and Public Works committee.