Montana ranchers recently had the opportunity to share their concerns about a growing grizzly bear population. Other than locals, those in attendance included U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director Aurelia Skipwith, local media and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
Grizzlies continue to expand their range to landscapes not seen for more than a century. Just this past summer, biologists confirmed the presence of one grizzly 125 miles east of the Rocky Mountain Front in north-central Montana. To the south, the estimated grizzly population in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem numbers approximately 750 yet it remains protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
“When it comes to managing grizzly bears – or any wildlife species, RMEF maintains that scientific wildlife management must continue to be the foundation on which wildlife decisions are made,” said Karie Decker, RMEF director of habitat stewardship. “RMEF supports the science and professional managers who have shown that that the grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has surpassed all recovery criteria and the proposal to delist the species and transfer its management to state wildlife agencies.”
The Department of Interior placed the species under state management in 2017, but a federal judge returned the population to federal protection in 2018.
“When we’re looking at our decisions, it should be based on science. It shouldn’t be left up to the courts and the judges,” Aurelia Skipwith, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director, told KRTV-TV. “Being here today shows our commitment to making sure that working lands are kept working.”
“State wildlife agencies have a strong track-record of successfully managing wildlife to ensure healthy populations. They have already set in place plans and everything to take over the task of managing grizzlies and have demonstrated that the state will manage bears responsibly,” added Decker. “We thank Director Skipwith and Senator Steve Daines for their willingness to seek forward progress on grizzly bear issues and the delisting process.”
(Photo source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)