By Media Team, Sierra Club
Today – despite serious concerns from Tribal nations and the scientific community – the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed Greater-Yellowstone-region grizzly bears from the Endangered Species List.
Many in the scientific community shared concerns about these grizzlies still facing a declining, isolated population with diminishing food resources and record-high mortalities. And once again, the Trump administration turned a deaf ear to repeated calls for consultation from dozens of Tribal Nations.
“This premature decision to remove endangered species protections could set grizzly recovery back by decades,” said Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune. “It is an egregious affront to Tribal Nations that consider grizzly bears sacred, and it’s bad news for the Yellowstone region’s outdoor economy.”
Grizzly bears are an essential piece of the American West, a wildlife icon that has been integral to the Yellowstone region for centuries. Unfortunately, states have already made it clear that without endangered species protections, immediate steps will be taken to reduce the number of bears in the area, including through trophy hunting.
The Greater Yellowstone grizzly is one of the Endangered Species Act’s greatest success stories, with the population having grown from around 150 bears in the 1970’s to over 700 now. Today’s decision will not only harm this iconic population, but also upset the balance of the entire Yellowstone ecosystem and set the precedent for more attacks on our threatened wildlife.
“The end result will be fewer bears restricted to an even smaller area,” said Brune. “Grizzly bears will be killed through trophy hunts on the doorstep of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks instead of inspiring millions who come to the region just for a chance to see a live grizzly bear in the wild.
“People and bears can co-exist,” added Brune. “And as grizzly recovery so far has demonstrated, can do so in a way that is highly beneficial to all. However coexistence cannot work if misplaced political hostility continues to impede the ability of sound science to keep bears from sliding back towards extinction.”