The governors of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming have appointed a 15-member panel to review a plan that outlines how grizzly bears and their habitat would be managed within the Yellowstone Ecosystem when the bears are taken off the federally protected list of threatened species.
"We are working on the tasks that need to be completed to achieve recovery for grizzly bears in the Yellowstone Ecosystem," said Patrick Graham, director of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. "Before the delisting of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population can occur, the states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming and the federal land management agencies must agree to a plan that will ensure that the bears and their habitat are carefully managed and monitored once the Endangered Species Act no longer applies."
The plan under review is the draft "Conservation Strategy" for grizzly bears in the Yellowstone Ecosystem. Drafted by the Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, the Conservation Strategy is intended to provide the most efficient vehicle for a regional approach to grizzly bear management in the states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, Graham said.
The Yellowstone Ecosystem is about 10-million acres and includes Yellowstone National Park and surrounding portions of the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. The grizzly was listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act in 1975 and afforded federal protection.
Over the past 25 years, the grizzly population in the greater Yellowstone region has increased from about 200 bears to an estimated 400-600 or more today.
The Governors Roundtable on the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy is charged to conduct a thorough review of the draft strategy, engage the public in its deliberations, and strive to reach agreement on a unified response from the three states. "Bears do not recognize political boundaries," Graham said. "Thats why Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and the federal land management agencies must work together."
Roundtable members include:
The Roundtable intends to hold meetings in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming during March, April and May. Locations and dates for the public meetings have yet to be determined. A final report with specific recommendations will be submitted to Governors Dirk Kempthorne (Idaho), Marc Racicot (Montana) and Jim Geringer (Wyoming) in late May. This report from the Roundtable will form the basis of the comments submitted by the three governors to the US Fish and Wildlife Service on the draft Conservation Strategy. For more information, or to receive a copy of the draft Conservation Strategy, contact Laird Robinson at 406-329-3434. The draft Conservation Strategy will be available starting March 1 via the Internet at http://www.r6.fws.gov/endspp/grizzly/.