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With Grizzlies Growing in Numbers and Range, Delisting is a Real Possibility

By Mark Heinz for Cowboy State Daily

Why There Is A Very Good Chance That The Grizzly Bear Will Get Delisted This Time

This time, it’s likely to happen.

That’s the assessment of the latest effort to remove Wyoming’s grizzly bears from the endangered species list by retired U.S. Department of the Interior official Rob Wallace, who lives in northwest Wyoming.

“The evidence is irrefutable that the grizzly bear has recovered,” said Wallace, who retired in 2021 as assistant U.S. secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The office of Gov. Mark Gordon recently announced a breakthrough in its latest petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – the agency Wallace oversaw – to delist grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. That includes Yellowstone National Park and the adjacent wildlands in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

The USFWS agreed to open a yearlong status review and comment period, after which the grizzlies could be delisted, according to Gordon’s office.

Haven’t We Heard This Before?

Wyoming wildlife enthusiasts and hunters may have a flash of Déjà vu thinking they’ve heard all this before – many times before.

Wallace told Cowboy State Daily that this time, USFWS biologists can clearly demonstrate to federal courts that grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone area number at least 1,000. That’s more than enough to prove an established, healthy population.

That bodes well for the process to “no longer be subject to judicial review,” he said.

Gordon’s spokesman Michael Pearlman agreed, telling Cowboy State Daily that the ability to clearly prove there are at least 1,000 grizzlies gives this latest delisting effort the edge it needs.

That’s significant because court orders petitioned by groups opposing delisting have shut down previous efforts to delist grizzlies in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

Most recently, delisting had apparently gone through in 2018. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department had even begun offering grizzly hunting tags for an anticipated fall season, but a federal court order stopped it.

Expanding Their Range

Grizzly bears had all but disappeared from the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem by the early 1970s. They were placed under endangered species protection in 1975 in hopes that their population could recover.

They have since continued to grow in both numbers and range.

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