Monday, June 23, 2014

Center for Biological Diversity Demands Expansion in Grizzly Bear Recovery Efforts

Grizzly bear

It has recently been reported that the Center for Biological Diversity is encouraging federal officials to bolster attempts to assist grizzly bear recovery efforts, which includes reintroducing the animals to western states such as Arizona and California, otherwise face a lawsuit for failing to adhere to parts of the Endangered Species Act. The Tucson-based conservation group announced on Wednesday that it had filed a petition determining more than 100,000 square miles of probable habitats for the bears, including the Grand Canyon, Utah's Uinta Mountains, and the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California. This petition was filed to Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell and U.S Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe, and stated that the two bureaus had a "mandatory duty to develop a recovery plan for the grizzly bear" by "revising and updating" recovery plans dating back to 1993 for populations recognized at the time when the species was first recorded. In addition, the petition also added that the agencies should identify extra regions where recovery tactics have to be enforced. It was filed under an administrative portion of the Endangered Species Act, declaring that the grizzly bear's current residence represents only a small portion of the bears' historic habitat and just 22 percent of its range in the contiguous United States. According to the group, recovery plans have only been formulated for grizzly bear populations in six regions: the Cabinet-Yaak, Greater Yellowstone, North Cascades, Northern Continental Divide on Glacier National Park, Selkirk Mountains, and Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area. Out of these six regions, only the first four received on-the-ground recovery assistance.
Map of grizzly bear range

This article indicates that it is highly essential to further expand the population of an iconic species in the United States whose current range is limited to only a fraction of its historic range. The grizzly bear historically ranged throughout the western half of the United States, including the American Southwest, Pacific Northwest, and California. However, decades of indiscriminate hunting and habitat loss due to the arrival of early settlers resulted in a mass extinction throughout the animal's historic range. Currently, the grizzly bear's range is limited primarily to Yellowstone National Park which comprises the states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. In addition, it also inhabits parts of northwestern Montana and a small portion of Washington comprised of North Cascades. The current population of these majestic animals in the lower 48 states is approximately 1,600 and much of that figure is concentrated in and around Yellowstone National Park. If the people of the United States want grizzly bears around for centuries, then it is absolutely necessary to identify essential habitats in parts of the western United States where they once flourished in order to expand the animals' recovery efforts. The grizzly bear has long been part of California's history; it is the state animal and is even depicted on the state flag and seal. Therefore, reintroducing it back to the Sierra Nevada range or anywhere else in the state would not only be a way to expand the bear's range in the U.S but also restore California to its former glory. Although the grizzly bear population in and around the Yellowstone region has significantly recovered, the species should not be stripped of its status as an endangered species. There are still significant portions in other parts of the western U.S, including California, where the grizzly bear once existed and it is very crucial to reintroduce it back in those parts in order to ensure the species' survival and that its current population number 1,600 would increase to roughly 6,000 or so.

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