Jane Goodall Among 58 Scientists Urging Government to Halt Grizzly De-Listing


| May 6, 2016

Dr. Jane Goodall is one of 58 prominent scientists and experts who have signed a letter asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to retain Endangered Species Act protections for Yellowstone-area grizzly bears.

Incidentally, their letter was released around the same time that Montana wildlife officials announced draft grizzly hunting regulations that, once approved, would offer $50 permits to local residents and $1,000 permits for out-of-state hunters to shoot the bears, The Guardian reported. The state’s grizzly hunting plan would be implemented if the bears are taken off the federal endangered species list.

USFWS has proposed de-listing the Yellowstone grizzlies, saying that their numbers have recovered to a point where federal protection is no longer needed.

However, opponents argue that the iconic animals are not ready for de-listing because climate change and other human-caused factors have threatened their food sources. The letter states:

Grizzly bears face multiple threats to persistence including the loss of their primary food resources. Currently, whitebark pine seeds, native cutthroat trout, huckleberries, army cutworm moths, elk and bison are either declining and/or are expected to decline in the foreseeable future as a result of habitat loss, climate change, drought, invasive species and other anthropogenic causes.

Goodall recently delivered a recorded video message to the House Natural Resources Committee in Washington DC to urge protection for the grizzlies, which were put on the endangered species list in 1975.

“Forty years ago when the grizzlies at the Yellowstone ecosystem numbered less than 150 individuals and their survival seemed precarious, it was thanks to protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1975 that their number today has risen slowly to around 700,” the renowned primatologist and conservationist said.

“But their future isn’t secure yet because they face so many threats to survival. Two of their four major foods have all but been wiped out due to climate change, disease and invasive species. And they may be killed if they prey on livestock in their increasingly difficult search for food.”

Wildlife biologist David J. Mattson, who also signed the letter, explained to NPR that the plight of the whitebark pine trees is at the center of the Yellowstone grizzly fight. The seeds from the tree are a major source of food for the grizzlies but climate change is wiping out the trees.

Mattson told NPR that climate change has also forced the bears to roam further away from protected areas in search of food thus increases the risk of bear encounters with ranchers and big-game hunters.

In March, USFWS director Dan Ashe announced the “historic success” of the recovering Yellowstone grizzly bear population. However, because of this “success,” this means that if grizzly bears that wander outside of their protected areas, they could be legally hunted if they are de-listed.

“If the grizzlies are de-listed and the state opens a hunting season, ‘399’ [a beloved mother grizzly living in Grand Teton National Park] might be shot by a trophy hunter so that her head can be mounted on a wall, her skin laid on the floor for human feet to trample,” as Goodall lamented in her video message. “I think many hearts would break. I know mine would.”

According to The Guardian, “officials in the three states that surround Yellowstone—Wyoming, Idaho and Montana—have insisted the re-opening of hunting after 40 years won’t harm the grizzly population.”

Care2 noted that UFWS tried to de-list grizzly bears in 2007 but environmental groups sued. In 2009, a federal judge in Montana ruled that Yellowstone grizzly bears should continue to be protected because not only were the safeguards promised by the USFWS unenforceable, but due to climate change, bears were losing a major part of their diet due to whitebark pine trees dying off.

The USFWS is taking public comment until May 10 on whether to de-list Yellowstone-area grizzlies.

4 thoughts on “Jane Goodall Among 58 Scientists Urging Government to Halt Grizzly De-Listing

  1. “Mattson told NPR that climate change has also forced the bears to roam further away from protected areas in search of food thus increases the risk of bear encounters with ranchers and big-game hunters.”

    These people and their government lackeys have it all figured out, don’t they? Just like the wolves, they are restricted to limited areas which harms their genetic diversity, and as soon as they step one paw out of the no-fly zone, they get shot. There’s just no winning, and I hope the courts continue to see it that way. All these people care about is killing. There was a editorial in the NYT encouraging delisting, and the first thing he wrote about was that he wanted a trophy. Later on in the piece, there was a (veiled?) mention that it would threaten the ESA if the bears were not delisted. Sir, I think not.

      • “But any hunting will be tightly regulated. The killing of females with cubs, or of unaccompanied cubs, will be illegal. Any grizzly killed by a hunter will be counted toward a mortality ceiling that will also include bears killed by cars and even natural causes. Once that threshold is met, hunting will be cut off. If the cap is exceeded, those deaths will be counted against the next year. This will ensure a thriving, stable population.”

        Who do they think believes this stuff anymore? The same was said about wolves, and the body count continually ‘creeps’, and not a thing is done to cut off or control hunting – in fact, they are increasing the quota around Gardiner for the same bogus reasons – livestock, human/wildlife conflict, ad nauseam.

        Once these animals are delisted, there’s no telling what will become of them – and there will still be illegal poaching under the guise of an attack, as there are now. Once an animal is dead, the damage has been done. No amount of scurrying around afterwards will fix it. Just avoid killing them in the first place seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? More grizzlies were killed last year than at any time, and that was without a delisting!

        But at least they can’t say they thought it was a coyote, although you never know. 😉

  2. The hunting will be highly regulated! What the hell does that mean? Scarface got killed during what would probably been the last year of his life. So he was not allowed to just go into his den and quietly go to sleep. So, was it hunting season? How hard are they trying to find his killer? And if they do, what will happen? Anything severe enough to act as a deterrent to the next trigger-happy good old boy? When do poachers ever get the punishment they deserve? Enough of the rhetorical questions.

    As long as there are big bucks involved in the killing it will go on. As long as the state helps finance the fish and game department, the killing will go on. Most of the people involved don’t believe in climate change and won’t give any of the wildlife a break for trying to survive. Bears, wolves, cougars, bison stepping over the boundary will die.

    By the way, did everyone hear that our favorite welfare rancher, Cliven Bundy, has cattle so uncared for out on the range that they are turning feral and starving?




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