Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why We Need One Connected Grizzly Bear Population

Photo Source Michael Fraley | CC BY 2.0

When U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen issued  the order that reversed the Trump administration’s decision to take Yellowstone ecosystem grizzly bears off the threatened species list he did so for the best of reasons: Isolated populations of people or animals suffer from inbreeding, inbred populations don’t survive, and Montana’s isolated grizzly populations lack the connected habitat to avoid inbreeding.

When Europeans first arrived there were over 50,000 grizzly bears in the West. While 37 separate grizzly populations were identified in the contiguous U.S. in 1922, only six populations remained by 1975 when they were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.  Now there are only two areas in Montana with substantial grizzly populations — the Greater Yellowstone region with about 700 bears and the Northern Continental Divide region with about 900 bears. The isolated Cabinet-Yaak grizzlies in northwest Montana number fewer than 50 bears, and there are no known bears in the Selway-Bitterroot in central Idaho.

The original U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recovery plan stated that grizzly bears would only be recovered when grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide, the Cabinet-Yaak, and the Yellowstone ecosystems – as well as bears in the Selkirks and North Cascades – were all recovered.  They were listed as one population and needed to be recovered as one population.

But last year the Trump administration decided to “balkanize” the bears into “distinct populations” and took Yellowstone-area grizzlies off the threatened species list with the support of presidential candidate, Montana Governor Steve Bullock.  Due to increased development and lack of connected habitat, grizzlies number a mere 2 percent of their historic population and occupy even less than 2 percent of their historic range.  In short, grizzly bears aren’t recovered and deserve better from humans than a rush to the taxidermist.

As the judge noted in his Order, the Court is constrained by the Constitution and the laws enacted by Congress.  His job was to determine if the Trump administration violated the law when it delisted grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem; and he found the administration broke the law by ignoring the best available science about the risk of inbreeding in isolated populations.

For grizzly bears to survive over the long run, we need to protect and connect their habitat so grizzlies in the Northern Rockies can again be one genetically sound population.

We can do this because the Northern Rockies still have large amounts of roadless areas that can provide corridors for grizzlies to travel between the Northern Continental Divide region and Yellowstone.  Grizzly bears are reclaiming their old habitat now and will eventually connect – but only if we continue to protect them instead of shooting them for rugs.

Grizzlies have the highest mortality rates near roads and the greatest chance of survival in wilderness.  The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA) is now before Congress as H.R. 2135 in the House and S. 936 in the Senate.  The measure, written by citizens and scientists in the Northern Rockies, provides wilderness designation and protection to the remaining roadless areas in the Northern Rockies and hence, provides the best chance for grizzly bear recovery.

The Trump administration and Republicans in Congress are currently trying to gut the Endangered Species Act.  Now’s the time to join the Alliance for the Wild Rockies in standing up for our public lands and fighting to preserve critical habitat for native species for future generations.

Please take a moment to contact your Congressional delegation and ask them to support NREPA and oppose the bills that weaken the Endangered Species Act.

More articles by:

Mike Garrity is the executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies.

October 22, 2018
Henry Giroux
Neoliberalism in the Age of Pedagogical Terrorism
Melvin Goodman
Washington’s Latest Cold War Maneuver: Pulling Out of the INF
David Mattson
Basket of Deplorables Revisited: Grizzly Bears at the Mercy of Wyoming
Michelle Renee Matisons
Hurricane War Zone Further Immiserates Florida Panhandle, Panama City
Tom Gill
A Storm is Brewing in Europe: Italy and Its Public Finances Are at the Center of It
Christopher Brauchli
The Liars’ Bench
Gary Leupp
Will Trump Split the World by Endorsing a Bold-Faced Lie?
Michael Howard
The New York Times’ Animal Cruelty Fetish
Alice Slater
Time Out for Nukes!
Geoff Dutton
Yes, Virginia, There are Conspiracies—I Think
Daniel Warner
Davos in the Desert: To Attend or Not, That is Not the Question
Priti Gulati Cox – Stan Cox
Mothers of Exiles: For Many, the Child-Separation Ordeal May Never End
Manuel E. Yepe
Pence v. China: Cold War 2.0 May Have Just Begun
Raouf Halaby
Of Pith Helmets and Sartorial Colonialism
Dan Carey
Aspirational Goals  
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail