FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why Most of Montana’s Grizzlies Remain on the Chopping Block


The Judge has ruled. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) has once again violated federal law in phase one of its headlong rush to remove Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection (delisting) for 95% of the grizzly bears in the lower 48 states and all but 50 of the grizzly bears in Montana.

While the ruling brings a welcome halt to trophy hunting in Wyoming and Idaho and restores ESA protections in the Yellowstone region pending any appeals, here’s the rub: the bulk of Montana’s grizzly bears, which reside in the Glacier-Bob Marshall region, remain on the chopping block.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWPs) is holding hearings and a public comment period on its plans to manage grizzly bears after delisting. Their premise is that only 800 bears are needed for long-term survival, which is more than 200 bears fewer than their current estimate and far less than the 2,500-5,000 bears conservation biologists and geneticists say are required for long-term viability over several hundred years and not just a few generations.

Since none of the remaining grizzly bear sub-regions in the Northern Rockies are geographically large enough to support that number of bears, they must be linked through protected habitats where both female and male grizzly bears can live and breed and pass genetic material amongst the sub-regions.

This need was previously recognized by the Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan and the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, which wrote:

“To address the issue of habitat fragmentation, the IGBC supports the identification of those areas within and between the major grizzly bear ecosystems where wildlife can live or move between existing large blocks of relatively secure habitat. These areas are called linkage zones. Wildlife habitat conservation and the eventual recovery of listed species such as grizzly bears will require connections between populations.”

This letter was signed by the USFWS, FWPs and Forest Service. Moreover, USFWS later finalized a recovery plan for the Bitterroot ecosystem based on natural immigration based upon linkages.

Sadly, the agencies have pulled the rug out from under this strategy and replaced it with a new one based on raw politics and anti-science. By proposing delisting for Northern Continental Divide grizzly bears as an isolated population, they are following the same illegal, scientifically deficient strategy of delisting the populations one at a time, stranding the other populations to certain extinction.

Their methods also overcount bears. For example, as the Judge noted at the hearing, grizzly bears born in the core population area that cross beyond an artificial boundary and are subsequently killed, are EXCLUDED when calculating population growth trend. Now we’ve learned that females with cubs who are killed are INCLUDED in calculations showing distribution of female/cub groups. Using “ghost bears” for achievement of recovery goals is bogus and unacceptable.

These math tricks result in unrealistic growth that inflates the population estimate, creating the “surplus” managers seek to exploit through trophy hunting and relaxed habitat protection. This flies in the face of record-high mortality in the NCDE in 2018, including 13 grizzlies killed by automobile and train collisions (quadruple the previous average) and with much of the season to go, including big game hunting seasons.

It’s time for USFWS and FWPs to face the music. There are no shortcuts. We need a plan that protects and links all five of the grizzly bear populations in the Northern Rockies region. Let them hear it.

The FWPs comment period is open until October 26. 

Written comment by mail: Grizzly Bear ARM-Wildlife Division, Dept. Fish, Wildlife & Parks, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701; by email: FWPGRIZZLYBEARARM@mt.gov

 

More articles by:

Mike Bader of Missoula is an independent consultant who has been involved in grizzly bear research and management issues since 1982 and has published several professional papers and reports on grizzly bear distribution, habitat, mortality and behavior.

December 13, 2018
John Davis
What World Do We Seek?
Subhankar Banerjee
Biological Annihilation: a Planet in Loss Mode
Lawrence Davidson
What the Attack on Marc Lamont Hill Tells Us
James McEnteer
Breathless
Ramzy Baroud
The Real Face of Justin Trudeau: Are Palestinians Canada’s new Jews?
Dean Baker
Pelosi Would Sabotage the Progressive Agenda With a Pay-Go Rule
Elliot Sperber
Understanding the Yellow Vests Movement through Basic Color Theory 
Rivera Sun
The End of the NRA? Business Magazines Tell Activists: The Strategy is Working
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Historic Opportunity to Transform Trade
George Ochenski
Trump Trashes Sage Grouse Protections in Another cCollaboration Failure
December 12, 2018
Arshad Khan
War, Anniversaries and Lessons Never Learned
Paul Street
Blacking Out the Yellow Vests on Cable News: Corporate Media Doing its Job
Kenneth Surin
The Brexit Shambles Rambles On
David Schultz
Stacking the Deck Against Democracy in Wisconsin
Steve Early
The Housing Affordability Crisis and What Millennials Can do About It
George Ochenski
Collaboration Failure: Trump Trashes Sage Grouse Protections
Rob Seimetz
Bringing a Life Into a Dying World: A Letter From a Father to His Unborn Son
Michael Howard
PETA and the ‘S’-Word
John Kendall Hawkins
Good Panopt, Bad Panopt: Does It Make A Difference?
Kim C. Domenico
Redeeming Utopia: a Meditation On An Essay by Ursula LeGuin
Binoy Kampmark
Exhuming Franco: Spain’s Immemorial Divisions
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Democratizing Money
Laura Finley
Congress Must Reauthorize VAWA
December 11, 2018
Eric Draitser
AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?
Sheldon Richman
War Over Ukraine?
Louis Proyect
Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression
Howard Lisnoff
Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.
Mark Ashwill
A “Patriotic” Education Study Abroad Program in Viet Nam: God Bless America, Right or Wrong!
Laura Flanders
HUD Official to Move into Public Housing?
Nino Pagliccia
Resistance is Not Terrorism
Matthew Johnson
See No Evil, See No Good: The Truth Is Not Black and White
Maria Paez Victor
How Reuters Slandered Venezuela’s Social Benefits Card
December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail