• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Revamping Grizzly Bear Recovery

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

The enthusiasm expressed for Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s proposed grizzly bear advisory council promises to enhance coexistence efforts at a time when, with each new year, grizzly bear deaths shatter records. But Montana’s efforts must be nested within a larger national framework of grizzly bear recovery.

The grizzly is an iconic species of global concern. Families from across America and the world are flocking to Yellowstone and Glacier hoping to see a grizzly bear. Montana recognizes the public’s passion for grizzlies and other wildlife — and their economic contribution to numerous communities — evident in widespread promotion of our state animal.

In giving grizzly bears Endangered Species Act protections, the federal government long ago recognized that state management was inadequate. The Fish and Wildlife Service has played a vital role since 1975 in reversing the decline of grizzly bear populations in the Northern Rockies, a decline states had perpetuated with trophy hunts. By banning hunting, setting high fines to deter poaching, and establishing tough regulations to keep human foods away from bears, the FWS, along with the Forest Service, National Park Service and states, has improved the health of Montana’s grizzlies.

Progress has been slow. Low reproductive rates exacerbate the continued excessive rates at which grizzlies die. Yellowstone and Glacier bear populations have flat-lined during the last 15 years and could even be in decline — contrary to inflated claims of government biologists. States can continue to make a positive difference, but only under oversight by a federal government charged with protecting the interests of all Americans.

Twenty years ago, governors of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming set up a “round table” process similar to the current advisory council. Unfortunately, it proved to be little more than a vehicle for promoting premature delisting and limiting grizzlies to isolated island ecosystems — despite overwhelming scientific evidence that lasting recovery can only be achieved by reconnecting grizzly bear ecosystems. In the aftermath, Montana undertook a costly and unsuccessful fight to grab power from the federal government, reduce grizzly populations and disenfranchise the national public.

The federal government should not tolerate a repeat of this cynical exercise. Grizzlies in the Northern Continental Divide, Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak are still federally protected as are Yellowstone grizzlies following last fall’s court order. The FWS continues to be accountable for promoting meaningful recovery and for giving all Americans a voice in the process.

But the Fish and Wildlife Service  has been abdicating its responsibility, wasting time and taxpayer dollars challenging the relisting ruling, which even Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator Hilary Cooley says is a lost cause. The agency has also been also looking the other way as grizzly bear deaths mount, despite maintaining that most of these deaths were avoidable. Other than keeping a rote tally, the agency has no records during the last two years detailing how a staggering 131 grizzlies died in the Yellowstone Ecosystem.

FWS must provide better oversight of the states, including Montana’s new council. Together, federal and state stakeholders can improve coexistence efforts. We have learned a lot about how to prevent conflicts, with the help of bear pepper spray, bear-proof garbage bins, and electric fences around beehives and chicken coops. Much can be gleaned from successful coexistence work in the Madison and Blackfoot Valleys to improve practices elsewhere.

Climate warming and massive wildfires have already clobbered native bear foods, forcing bears to forage more widely and boosting human conflicts. Montana’s Grizzly Bear Council could help navigate the new reality, while allowing more bears to live in the ample suitable habitat we still have.

People outside Montana cannot and should not be ignored. During the last 20 years, citizens from around our country have overwhelmingly and consistently supported stronger protections for grizzlies through comments on more than a dozen federal and state decisions. Nearly 1 million people commented on the 2016 draft rule to remove ESA protections for Yellowstone’s grizzlies. More than 99.99% supported stronger, not weaker, protections. They deserve a seat at the table.

Meaningful recovery of grizzlies can only be achieved through a combination of local, state and national efforts. With 150 applicants for 15 seats on the Grizzly Bear Council, Montanans have shown a keen interest in constructive progress. The challenge now is to frame that work within an effective and coordinated national effort. The FWS must wake up and engage — on behalf of all of us.

More articles by:

Louisa Willcox is a longtime grizzly bear activist and founder of Grizzly Times. She lives in Montana.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 16, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
How Turkey’s Invasion of Syria Backfired on Erdogan
Chitrangada Choudhury – Aniket Aga
How Cotton Became a Headache in the Age of Climate Chaos
Jack Rasmus
US-China Mini-Trade Deal: Trump Takes the Money and Runs
Michael Welton
Communist Dictatorship in Our Midst
Robert Hunziker
Extinction Rebellion Sweeps the World
Peter A. Coclanis
Donald Trump as Artist
Chris Floyd
Byzantium Now: Time-Warping From Justinian to Trump
Steve Klinger
In For a Dime, in For a Dollar
Gary Leupp
The Maria Ramirez Story
Kim C. Domenico
It Serves Us Right To Suffer: Breaking Down Neoliberal Complacency
Kiley Blackman
Wildlife Killing Contests are Unethical
Colin Todhunter
Bayer Shareholders: Put Health and Nature First and Stop Funding This Company!
Andrés Castro
Looking Normal in Kew Gardens
October 15, 2019
Victor Grossman
The Berlin Wall, Thirty Years Later
Raouf Halaby
Kurdish Massacres: One of Britain’s Many Original Sins
Robert Fisk
Trump and Erdogan have Much in Common – and the Kurds will be the Tragic Victims of Their Idiocy
Ron Jacobs
Betrayal in the Levant
Wilma Salgado
Ecuador: Lenin Moreno’s Government Sacrifices the Poor to Satisfy the IMF
Ralph Nader
The Congress Has to Draw the Line
William A. Cohn
The Don Fought the Law…
John W. Whitehead
One Man Against the Monster: John Lennon vs. the Deep State
Lara Merling – Leo Baunach
Sovereign Debt Restructuring: Not Falling Prey to Vultures
Norman Solomon
The More Joe Biden Stumbles, the More Corporate Democrats Freak Out
Jim Britell
The Problem With Partnerships and Roundtables
Howard Lisnoff
More Incitement to Violence by Trump’s Fellow Travelers
Binoy Kampmark
University Woes: the Managerial Class Gets Uppity
Joe Emersberger
Media Smears, Political Persecution Set the Stage for Austerity and the Backlash Against It in Ecuador
Thomas Mountain
Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize, But It Takes Two to Make Peace
Wim Laven
Citizens Must Remove Trump From Office
October 14, 2019
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
Class Struggle is Still the Issue
Mike Miller
Global Climate Strike: From Protest To Power?
Patrick Cockburn
As Turkey Prepares to Slice Through Syria, the US has Cleared a New Breeding Ground for Isis
John Feffer
Trump’s Undeclared State of Emergency
Dean Baker
The Economics and Politics of Financial Transactions Taxes and Wealth Taxes
Jonah Raskin
What Evil Empire?
Nino Pagliccia
The Apotheosis of Emperors
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A Passion for Writing
Basav Sen
The Oil Despots
Brett Wilkins
‘No Friend But the Mountains’: A History of US Betrayal of the Kurds
John Kendall Hawkins
Assange: Enema of the State
Scott Owen
Truth, Justice and Life
Thomas Knapp
“The Grid” is the Problem, Not the Solution
Rob Kall
Republicans Are Going to Remove Trump Soon
Cesar Chelala
Lebanon, Dreamland
Weekend Edition
October 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
CounterPunch in Peril?
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail