At their annual winter meeting in Missoula this week, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) met to hear reports from the various ecosystem subcommittees responsible for grizzly bear recovery and management in the six recovery areas in the contiguous United States and adjacent Canadian Provinces. After over 32 years of cooperative efforts the overall news was promising about the progress being made, especially in regards to the Northern Continental Divide and Yellowstone Ecosystems.
After the presentation, a motion to accept the findings of the study was made by IGBC member Jim Unsworth, Deputy Director for the Idaho Department of Fish & Game, “I move that the IGBC accept the IGBST (Study Team) Synthesis Report and endorse it as an adequate evaluation of food habits and the relative importance of White Bark Pine in the diet of Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Grizzly Bears. I further move, that the IGBC recommend the United States Fish & Wildlife Service proceed with development of a new proposed rule to delist the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Population.” The motion was supported unanimously by all the other members of the committee.
Acceptance of the report officially does nothing to trigger the delisting of grizzlies in the Yellowstone Ecosystem, but its overwhelming acceptance by the IGBC is a signal to the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) that they can now move forward with internal review of the status of the Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear population. The USFWS will review the report and will decide in the next month or so whether to move forward with a new proposed rule to delist the Yellowstone grizzly population. If this proposed rule is developed it will be published for public comment approximately mid-2014.
In addition to discussion of the Yellowstone Ecosystem, the IGBC received detailed reports on the progress being made towards moving to propose the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem for delisting and work towards beginning a required Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) needed as part of the Recovery Plan for the North Cascades Ecosystem.
Hiking in Glacier National Park