Fulfilling a promise made in September, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon has officially petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to remove the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) population of grizzly bears from the Endangered Species List. The petition, filed with the support of Idaho and Montana, affirms that grizzly bears, by all measures, have been fully-recovered since 2003.
“This is an extraordinary and monumental success story for species recovery and should be celebrated,” Gordon said. “The GYE grizzly bear is ready to join the ranks of the bald eagle, American alligator, peregrine falcon and brown pelican as receiving proper recognition as a thriving, recovered and stable species.”
The governor expressed his appreciation for the cooperative efforts of Montana and Idaho in making the petition possible. The two states, along with Wyoming, separately approved a modified Tri-State Memorandum of Agreement establishing new management targets and discretionary management practices to keep the bear population well-above the minimum recovery level following delisting and affirmed their commitment to the bear’s genetic health and diversity.
Gordon reiterated there is no biological or legal reason to keep GYE grizzly listed. The states have applied the best-available population models, and the most current data shows grizzly bear populations have grown beyond the edges of the bear’s biological and socially suitable range. With refined population estimates, data shows the population numbers more than 1,000 bears in the GYE, far beyond all scientific requirements for a recovered, viable population.
“Grizzly bears in the GYE are fully recovered and their management is now best entrusted to the experienced and capable institutions of the states. After all, Wyoming has invested more than $52 million and dedicated countless hours of Game and Fish expertise to reach this point,” Gordon said. “We’re optimistic the Service will view the petition favorably, and we look forward to working with them on delisting.”
The FWS has 90 days to review the petition. At that time the petition can be denied or approved for additional review. If that is the case, the FWS can take up to 12 months to further review and analyze the state’s request and come to a final decision.
A copy of the signed petition may be found here.