Grizzly Bears No Longer "Threatened and Endangered"

Thursday, March 22, 2007

After nearly disappearing three decades ago, grizzly bears are thriving in the Yellowstone ecosystem and no longer need the protection of the Endangered Species Act, Deputy Interior Secretary Lynn Scarlett announced today.

“The grizzly’s remarkable comeback is the result of years of intensive cooperative recovery efforts between federal and state agencies, conservation groups, and individuals,” Scarlett said. “There is simply no way to overstate what an amazing accomplishment this is. The grizzly is a large predator that requires a great deal of space, and conserving such animals is a challenge in today’s world. I believe all Americans should be proud that, as a nation, we had the will and the ability to protect and restore this symbol of the wild.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is removing the Yellowstone population of grizzly bears from its status as “threatened” on the U.S. list of threatened and endangered species. Four other grizzly populations in the lower 48 states have not yet recovered and will continue to be protected as threatened species under the Act.

Grizzly numbers in the Yellowstone ecosystem have increased from an estimated population of 136 to 312 when they were listed as threatened in 1975, to more than 500 bears today.

Yellowstone grizzlies will now be managed under a comprehensive conservation strategy developed by state and federal scientists and managers that includes intensive monitoring of Yellowstone bears, their food, and their habitat. The conservation strategy incorporates the best available science and allows state and federal agencies to adjust management in response to new scientific information or environmental and bear population changes. State and federal managers will continue to work cooperatively under this framework to manage and maintain healthy grizzly bear populations throughout the Greater Yellowstone area.

“This comprehensive conservation strategy, agreed to by all state and federal players involved in grizzly recovery, will ensure that the future of the bear remains bright,” Scarlett noted.

The Yellowstone grizzly bear was listed as a threatened species because of loss of habitat and high mortality resulting from conflicts with humans. An interagency scientific study team was formed in 1973, and over the years the Yellowstone grizzlies have become the most intensely studied bear population in the world. In the 1980’s a multi-agency team, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC), was established. The IGBC managed bear mortality and habitat, worked to build public support, and helped develop adequate regulatory mechanisms for the bears. The IGBC includes the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, state wildlife agencies of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Washington; and the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta. Universities and private organizations have contributed to the study and conservation of the Yellowstone grizzlies as well.

Since the early 1990s, the Yellowstone population has grown at a rate of 4 percent to 7 percent per year. Grizzly range in the Yellowstone Ecosystem has increased 48 percent since they were listed, and biologists have sighted bears more than 60 miles from what was once thought to be the outer limits of their range

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to delist grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem in November 2005. The proposal was reviewed at four open houses and two public hearings; more than 193,500 public comments were received.

Notification of the delisting of the Yellowstone population of grizzly bears will be published in the Federal Register in the near future. More information about today’s announcement can be found at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/species/mammals/grizzly/yellowstone.htm

Grizzly bears are generally larger and heavier than other bears. They can be distinguished from black bears by longer, curved claws, humped shoulders and a face that appears to be concave. A wide range of coloration from light brown to nearly black is common. The bear’s coat features longer guard hairs over a dense mat of underfur with tips that are usually silver or golden in color - hence the name “grizzly.” In the lower 48 states, the average weight of grizzly bears is generally 400 to 600 pounds for males and 250 to 350 pounds for females. They generally live to be approximately 25 years old, although some wild bears have lived over 35 years.
Grizzlies are opportunistic feeders and will consume almost any available food including living or dead mammals or fish, grasses, roots, bulbs, tubers and fungi. The distribution and abundance of these grizzly bear foods vary naturally among seasons and years.

Biologists believe the Yellowstone area grizzly population and other remaining grizzly bear populations in the lower 48 states and Canada are markedly separate from each other, with no evidence of interaction with other populations. There are approximately 1,100 to 1,200 grizzly bears in the lower 48 states, in five separate populations in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Washington. In addition to the Yellowstone area, grizzlies also occur in the Northern Continental Divide ecosystem, where grizzly populations are stable or increasing and number 400 to 500 bears; in the Selkirk ecosystem where there are 40 to 50 bears; in the Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem, with 30 to 40 bears; and in the Northern Cascade ecosystem where there are approximately 5 bears.


Outdoor Chattanooga News And Events

Brown's Ferry Kayak Tour Aug. 2 The National Park Service will join Outdoor Chattanooga for a special historical tour of Brown's Ferry by kayak on Sat., Aug. 2, beginning at 9 a.m.  Paddle the TN River around Williams Island and the entrance to the TN River Gorge while an interpretive ranger from  Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park ... (click for more)

Three Popular Waterfowl Hunting Areas Have New Regulations

Hunting regulations have been changed on Gooch Unit E, Meeman-Shelby State Park, and White Oak (Lebanon Pond area) Wildlife Management Areas.  The duck hunting on these areas, prior to the change, was on a first come first serve basis. There were not any established hunting sites and hunters could set up anywhere they wanted. This has created an overcrowded issue which ... (click for more)

Harr Outlines $40 Million Plan For Chattanooga Light Rail System

Outgoing Chamber of Commerce President Ron Harr on Monday outlined a $40 million plan for a Chattanooga light rail system that would serve not only downtown, but also the Airport and the Enterprise South Industrial Park. In a speech to the Chattanooga Engineers Club, Mr. Harr said most cities looking at such an ambitious plan "would be facing costs of over a billion dollars." ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Choo Choo Adding Clubs, Restaurants In $7 Million Renovation

The historic Chattanooga Choo Choo is adding clubs and restaurants in a $7 million renovation, it was announced in front of the South Market Street landmark on Monday morning. The Comedy Catch will be moving from its longtime home in Brainerd and there will be a new 500-person music venue that will be in addition to Track 29. The new venue, managed by Track 29, will feature a ... (click for more)

Senator Bob Corker: An Open Letter To Tennesseans

We are incredibly fortunate to live in a state in which companies worldwide are clamoring to establish a presence. Many attribute it to our pro-business culture, well-prepared workforce, low tax environment, right-to-work policies, and engaged citizenry.  That is why the announcement by Volkswagen to build its midsize sports utility vehicle and establish the South’s ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘Our’ American Minute

William J. Federer is one of the leading historians in the United States and every morning I am among thousands of people who get an entertaining email from him called the “American Minute.” I adore it because Bill takes a significant event in American history that happened long ago – but he remembers on the very anniversary of when it occurred. A great example is that last Thursday ... (click for more)