Protect Grizzly Bears

In North America, the grizzly's penchant for solitude has long made it a symbol of the frontier spirit. But despite its rugged image, experts say, the grizzly bear is more vulnerable to human activity than any other wildlife species in the northern Rockies. Roughly 1,500 grizzlies now inhabit the lower 48 states, down from as many as 100,000 in the early 1800s.

To ensure the recovery of grizzly bears in the lower 48, the current population must increase to two or three times its current size, according to wildlife biologists. Yet across the American West, oil and gas companies are pressing to open vast swaths of wildlands to drilling, even as logging, motor vehicle recreation and mining continue to threaten these pristine areas. Rural sprawl is also on the rise. As a result, grizzly habitats -- including the Yellowstone/Rockies and Castle-Bighorn BioGems -- are shrinking and fragmenting, leaving small grizzly populations isolated from food sources and one another.

To make matters worse, the Bush administration is now planning to remove the Yellowstone grizzly from the endangered species list by 2007. Stripping endangered species protection from this population of 300 to 600 bears would jeopardize its long-term recovery by opening its habitat to oil and gas drilling and other development and by allowing hunters to kill bears that roam outside the park's limits. "Delisting the Yellowstone bear prematurely could drive it back to the brink of extinction," says Louisa Willcox, director of NRDC's wild bears project. BioGems Defenders sent tens of thousands of messages protesting this reckless proposal, and we are prepared to fight it in court if necessary.

At the same time, a new Forest Service plan to withdraw proposed protections for crucial grizzly bear habitat in the Cabinet-Yaak wildlands of northwestern Montana is jeopardizing the future of North America's most endangered grizzly population. NRDC and several partner groups won a crucial reprieve for the 20 or so bears that survive in this region when we went to court and blocked a massive polluting copper and silver mine. But with new proposals looming to expand mining, logging and roadbuilding in the Cabinet-Yaak wildlands, these bears are once again in danger.

To ensure that North America's imperiled grizzly populations flourish again, NRDC and BioGems Defenders are working to protect, restore and link bear habitats stretching from Yellowstone to northern Canada. And our efforts may be life-saving for many other species as well. According to scientific research, grizzly populations mirror the health of the ecosystems they inhabit. "Where you have grizzlies, you have healthy elk, watersheds and trout," says Willcox.

Click Here to Save Grizzlies!


Yellowstone grizzlies lose federal protection
Fort Wayne Journal Gazette


Grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park no longer need Endangered Species Act protection, the federal government said Thursday. The area had an estimated 136 to 312 grizzlies when the species was listed as threatened in 1975, but has more than 500 of the bears today, the government said. … Stripping the bears of protection could eventually clear the way for limited hunting of the animals. A measure that would allow such hunting has passed the Montana Senate.

Informant: Thomas L. Knapp


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