WILDLIFE IN WYOMING

Grizzly bears off of the endangered species list - FAQ

Here are some questions and answers related to the proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to take grizzly bears off of the endangered species list.

To view the complete Federal Register notice that publishes, visit http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/es/grizzlyBear.php.

Q. Does the Wyoming Game and Fish Department support the proposal of taking grizzly bears off of the endangered species list?

A. Yes, Game and Fish believes the states are best suited to manage wildlife. We are committed to maintaining a recovered grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Area into the future.

Wyoming has highly qualified grizzly managers with decades of experience managing bears and the citizens of Wyoming have already contributed over $40 million dollars to grizzly conservation and recovery. We need to recognize the commitment of Wyoming stakeholders such as sportsmen, ranchers, conservationists, outdoor recreationists and other users of the Greater Yellowstone Area.

Q. What is required before delisting occurs?

A. The first step requires the filing of a de-listing rule by the USFWS and they have announced their intent to do this in the coming days. Next, the USFWS will ask for public comments, evaluate those comments and address possible changes in their draft rule. Lastly, they must file a final de-listing rule. We are hopeful this happens by the end of the year. There is a substantial process ahead before management is turned over to the states. But, the recovery criteria for grizzly bears has been met for more than a decade.

Q. Will the public have a chance to give feedback on this plan?

A. Yes. There will be many opportunities for public comment through the process - at the state and federal levels.

The proposed rule, and the supporting documents, will publish in a couple days in the Federal Register. The USFWS will be seeking review and comment by the public, other federal and state  
agencies, and independent scientists. Comments are requested 60-days after publication, and will
be accepted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter Docket
Number FWS–R6–ES–2016–0042, and then click on the “Comment Now!” button.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department will soon release the draft Grizzly Bear Management Plan and the draft three-state Memorandum of Agreement and embark on a comprehensive process of public review and input. The public is encouraged to offer written comments and attend multiple public meetings held throughout Wyoming. All of this will be considered before a presentation and recommendations are made to the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission.  At the same time there will be a federal public comment period occurring.

Q. Will Wyoming have grizzly bear hunting?

A. That decision will ultimately rest with the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, but discretionary mortality is part of management of grizzly bears. The decision of the Commission would come after a public comment period and is subject to final action of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The Game and Fish Commission may consider the question this year, however, if they decide to enact a hunting season, the earliest it could begin would be in 2017.

Q. Is this effort substantially different from delisting in 2007?

A. No. The discussion to this point would maintain the general management approach that was approved then. This approach has been evaluated and upheld by the courts. The population of grizzly bears has continued to grow since 2007 and the growth has changed some of the discussion. This year’s proposal to delist grizzly bears has additional regulatory requirements to maintain a recovered population of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Area.
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