Sunday, December 7, 2014

U.S Refuses to Enhance Protections for Grizzly Bears in Idaho and Montana

A grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park's Hayden Valley.

It has recently been reported that federal wildlife managers have refused to increase protection for a population of grizzly bears in distant ranges of Idaho and northwest Montana that constitutes fewer than fifty animals, and which conservationists point out are going extinct. The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service indicated that the bears roaming the Cabinet Mountains and Yaak River drainage in the Northern Rocky Mountains are expected to rise to the recovery aim of 100 animals without changing their rank to endangered from threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The judgment came after a Montana-based organization called Alliance for the Wild Rockies filed a case against federal wildlife managers in April to order them to strengthen restrictions on logging, road construction, and other human activities on public land that constitute the bears' habitat. The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service had for several years dictated that categorizing grizzly bears as endangered was authorized, but other endangered animals took precedence. The Fish and Wildlife Service printed a report last year indicating that grizzly bears ranging across the alleged Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem were decreasing at a yearly rate of roughly 0.8 percent and that the proportion of bears killed by humans either illegally or accidentally escalated by 1999-2012 compared to 1982-1998. However, in a decision printed in Friday's Federal Register, the agency stated that the bear population in Idaho and Montana has been increasing for the past several years. In addition, on Friday, the Obama administration indicated that a different grizzly bear population in Idaho's Selkirk Mountains similarly did not call for further protections, stating that the population was approaching the recovery goals of ninety animals. A government board that manages approximately 600 bears in and around Yellowstone National Park has indicated that the population has improved and should not be given federal protection.

It is very disturbing to see just by looking at the figures of grizzly bear populations and making assumptions that they are either improving or in a critical state without making any further and more closer inspections to determine the animals' population state. That is, it is crucial to investigate the prevalence of human activities in the grizzly bears' habitat and how frequently incidents of human-bear conflicts have been occurring. This was seen in the case of the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to never provide any further protection for a population of grizzly bears in Idaho and northwest Montana, much to the dismay of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. Although the Fish and Wildlife Service published a report last year indicating that the bear population in Cabinet-Yaak area has been decreasing dramatically, the agency decided not to provide any further protection for the bears and blindly said that their population is improving. This type of action does not help in the conservation of grizzly bears or even other animals. In order to ensure the survival of America's wildlife, it is important that the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service should collaborate with other conservation groups across the country and listen to what they have to say regarding the plight of animals in jeopardy, including grizzly bears, before making any move. These animals are currently still thriving in a small portion of the lower 48 states which consist mainly of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming ever since they were completely eradicated from the entire western U.S. If the U.S wants to ensure that the grizzly bear continues to make its home in its native range, then there should be more enhanced conservation efforts like reintroducing the bear in parts of the western U.S where it had long disappeared. These include southern Rocky Mountains, the American Southwest, the entire Pacific Northwest, and even California where it is the state animal.

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