Grizzly Bear State Management Act of 2021 empowers states to manage their grizzly populations based on science.
Senator Cynthia Lummis (Wyoming) introduced the Grizzly Bear State Management Act of 2021 alongside Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, Senators Mike Crapo and James Risch of Idaho and Senator Steve Daines of Montana. This bill would remove grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the Endangered Species List and shift management of the grizzlies to wildlife scientists in the states.
Senator Lummis said:
“By all scientific measures, the grizzly bears of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are fully recovered. Reproductive numbers are stable and the population is at or near its max capacity for the habitat. It’s time to remove the grizzlies in this area from the Endangered Species List and allow wildlife scientists in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho to manage the populations according to science.
“Grizzly bears are an essential part of the ecosystem of Wyoming, but keeping them listed hurts their populations more than it helps them. Wildlife managers that live near the bears and study them closely have a better idea of population parameters than bureaucrats in Washington. It’s time to delist the grizzly in our area and let science dictate our wildlife policy.”
Senator Barrasso said:
“The science is clear: the grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are thriving and do not need protection under the Endangered Species Act. This has been true for years. Even President Obama’s Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed with me that the grizzly bear should be delisted in 2015. The state of Wyoming should be in charge of managing the bear population. Wyoming’s good work and sound management practices should be given an opportunity to demonstrate success. Seeing states successfully implement recovery efforts is just one of the many reasons I am working to improve the Endangered Species Act.”
Senator Crapo said:
“Idaho’s local wildlife managers have a history of successful species management practices based on sound science and collaborative efforts among federal, state and tribal entities. One such success is evidenced by the significant increase of the grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem–more than five times its population since the initial listing under the Endangered Species Act. The Grizzly Bear State Management Act will restore Idaho’s ability to responsibly manage grizzly bears for recovery while simultaneously addressing the needs of the landscape and local communities in the region.”
Senator Risch said:
“Grizzly bears met their recovery goals in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem more than a decade ago thanks to the hard work of states like Idaho. Yet instead of being appropriately delisted, the species has been subject to circular legal battles at the whim of activist judges that accomplish nothing and waste taxpayers’ money. This legislation recognizes it’s time to follow the science and common sense and delist the grizzly bear.”
Senator Daines said:
“The science is clear: the grizzly bear population has more than recovered in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Area. Wildlife management must be determined by science, not by activist judges. Montana’s state leaders know what’s best for our communities, public safety, the ecosystem, wildlife, and the grizzly bear itself. It is time to delist the grizzly bear and return wildlife management to Montana.”
Several local elected officials and associations in Wyoming praised introduction of the Grizzly Bear State Management Act.
The Park County, Wyoming Commissioners said:
“It is time for all to recognize the grizzly bear has already achieved healthy, robust population, has reached overpopulation for its available range and to manage it as such. It is time for the federal government to uphold its end of the agreement made with the people who live and recreate in Park County and delist the grizzly bear, and we feel the passage of this bill will do just that.”
The Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association (WYOGA) said:
“Long overdue is the need to delist the Grizzly Bear, a species whose recovery has been realized for nearly a decade now, yet whose removal from Endangered Species classification has been inappropriately forestalled by activist environmental organizations.”
In 1975, there were 136 grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In 2019, there were 728 bears, evidence of an effective conservation effort. At this point, grizzly numbers have been in the 700s for a number of years. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team’s analysis suggests that the park is at or near its ecological carrying capacity for grizzly bears.
The companion version of this legislation was previously introduced in the House by Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming.
The bill text can be found here.