Bear

A bear crosses the road in Yellowstone National Park in May 2020.

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) said she was prompted to be the next member of the state delegation to introduce a bill delisting the Yellowstone grizzly bear because of the new Secretary of the Interior.

Lummis, who objected to the nomination, said she saw Deb Haaland had supported a bill to permanently keep the bear on the Endangered Species Act.

The freshman senator said she didn’t want to waste any time ensuring that didn’t happen.

“Yellowstone and Grand Teton are about at their maximum capacity,” she said. “Wildlife managers that live near the bears and study them closely have a better idea of population parameters than bureaucrats in Washington. It’s time to delist the grizzly in our area and let science dictate our wildlife policy.”

Sen. John Barrasso, who is also supporting this bill, and Rep. Liz Cheney have both advanced similar bills in the past in the wake of the Yellowstone grizzly being returned to the ESA after some environmental groups sued following the bear’s delisting in 2017.

Park County Commmissioner Chairman Lee Livingston has been one of the most outspoken, local voices in support of delisting the grizzly bear.

He said permanent ESA listing of the bear would defeat the purpose of the law, which he also saw being abused for the gray wolf. Former President Donald Trump’s administration delisted the wolf from the ESA in November.

Livingston said many environmental groups fuel propaganda about keeping different species on the ESA as “a major league fundraiser.”

“It generates funds when they put it out there,” he said. “They use scare tactics.”

The Equal Access to Justice Act has been seen by some as a source of particular abuse. This law makes the federal government liable to pay the legal expenses of parties that prevail against the government in litigaiton or administrative proceedings. Ten agencies within the U.S. Department of Agriculture doled out $44.4 million through the act from 2001-2010, according to a Fox News report.

The Grizzly Bear State Management Act was brought to the floor by Lummis alongside Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Sens. Mike Crapo and James Risch of Idaho and Senator Steve Daines of Montana. This bill would remove grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the Endangered Species List and shift management of the grizzlies to wildlife scientists in the states.

Lummis said this collaboration with nearly all senators in the three states that would manage Yellowstone area grizzlies is key, as is having a Western Caucaus in Washington, D.C., to present regional matters.

“By all scientific measures, the grizzly bears of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are fully recovered,” Lummis said. “Reproductive numbers are stable and the population is at or near its max capacity for the habitat. It’s time to remove the grizzlies in this area from the Endangered Species List and allow wildlife scientists in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho to manage the populations according to science.”

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