Thanks to Thomas McNamee for his opinion on these matters:
In March 2016, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service proposed removing the Yellowstone grizzly bear population from the list of threatened species. The uproar was ferocious. Conservationists, scientists, 125 Indian tribes and some 650,000 citizens expressed concern about the move.
Now the government has gone and done it anyway.
Why? Because, foremost, the service’s biologists and administrators believe that the population has recovered to self-sustainability. And it has in fact grown a lot since 1984, the year I published “The Grizzly Bear,” when mother bears numbered in the low 30s — the brink of extirpation. The Department of the Interior now claims that “an estimated 700” grizzlies inhabit the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem — a vast wildlands centered on the world’s first national park but also including Grand Teton National Park, portions of six national forests, three national wildlife refuges and other federal, state, private and Indian lands.
A true recovery could be the greatest triumph yet for the Endangered Species Act of 1973, which is itself politically endangered. The states surrounding Yellowstone National Park — Idaho, Montana and Wyoming — have been pressing for the delisting for years, so that they can assume management of the bears outside the boundaries of the Yellowstone and Grand Teton parks. All three states plan to issue hunting licenses, which would be few in number but a major victory in the culture wars of the mountain West.
This is not the first time the feds have tried to delist the Yellowstone grizzly. They did it in 2007 and were met with a barrage of legal fire from conservation groups, which won in court and again on appeal. The court restored the bear to full protection in 2009, with a stinging rebuke of the government’s scientific claims.
So is it a true recovery this time? Nearly all conservation biologists outside government say that an absolute recovery will never be possible for the Yellowstone grizzly population…
Read the whole op-ed here.