Grizzly bear delisting for Greater Yellowstone is announced

The Department of Interior announced the removal of the grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone from the “threatened species list” today.

Recent developments such as the huge die-off of whitebark pine, whose nuts the grizzlies depend heavily upon, make this decision wrong. “Chuck Schwartz, U.S. Geological Survey interagency grizzly bear study team leader, said human-caused grizzly bear mortality is two to three times higher in poor white bark pine years than in good white bark pine years.” In future, of course, they will all be poor white bark pine years. So as is so usual, the government fails to plan for predictable, obvious future change.
Here is the news release from the government

Here is one of the first news stories. Feds to Remove Yellowstone Grizzly from Endangered Species List. New West. By Matthew Frank

Added on March 23 Yellowstone grizzlies to be removed from endangered list. By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette.

Note that the grizzly was never the the “endangered species list; it was the “threatened species list”
Here is the story from the Jackson Hole News and Guide, Grizzlies to be delisted. By Cory Hatch and the AP.







  1. Bruce Boxall Avatar
    Bruce Boxall

    When does the shooting start?

  2. be Avatar

    is it just me, or has there been a markedly abundant number of exclusions/delistings which are scientifically controversial at the department of interior lately?

  3. Moose Avatar

    “is it just me, or has there been a markedly abundant number of exclusions/delistings which are scientifically controversial at the department of interior lately?”

    Hey, January 2009 is coming on quickly…the Bushies don’t have much time left.

  4. chris Avatar

    At there’s access to more info including a Q&A link. The Q&A link gives, among other things, USFWS’s response to concern about declining food sources. They say don’t worry about it because while the bear’s food is declining the bears are still increasing (so far) and that they’ll adapt to any traditional food shortages. Sounds more like gambling than science to me.

  5. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    For anyone who remembers, I said that if you think James Watt sucked as Reagans Sec. of Intireor wait til dick-er-Dirk Kempthorne startes muckin things up.

  6. Me Avatar

    Well hi Bruce! Start? Why every year there are poaching of bears around Yellowstone. You know that. Those guys in Wyoming and Idaho are probably having a Grizzly roast right now in celebration. Yeah the “Act” worked, now let’s watch it fall apart and have to re list. I hope not, but some hunters have missing heads or heads (yeah, I went there), and the need to kill for such a lovely trophy is high. I can’t imagine anything MORE tacky in someone’s house. Bet the ladies just swoon for a dead bear in the living room. I guess it’s for other guys?! Go figure.
    If you thought $3000 was low for a poached bear, wait till you see the pathetic welts these guys will get on their wrists now for getting caught.

  7. Moose Avatar

    “They say don’t worry about it because while the bear’s food is declining the bears are still increasing (so far) and that they’ll adapt to any traditional food shortages. Sounds more like gambling than science to me.”

    This logically follows from: “The wolves are decimating the herds and will keep increasing until they wipe out all the wildlife and start eating dogs, cats, 6 yr olds, grandmas with arthritis, etc.”

    See, it all makes sense.

  8. Bruce Boxall Avatar
    Bruce Boxall

    ‘Me’ –I’m on your side. Anyone who kills a bear needs to be shot themsleves. Sickos

  9. J. Alan Hendricks Avatar

    Let’s just delist everything…and get this extinction thing over with! Who needs animals, clean air, water, or even an Earth?

    I cannot believe this crap and that more people are not speaking up!

    It is ok to slaughter these animals, yet, when it comes to ourselves and global warming…well…that is a catastrophy in the making! Ralph…did you vote these people in office? that was a JOKE!

  10. elkhunter Avatar

    How come the trees are dying, in UT we had mass pines trees dying from bark beetles cause the enviromentalist activist’s would not let them spray. Now all we see are dead trees. How many bears are there up there. I doubt they would issue more than just a couple tags, not a complete extirmination like everyone seems to think.

  11. michael Avatar

    In adapting to new food sources, there is a strong possibility that the bears will come into conflict with humans. It will only take the deaths of a few breeding age sows and the loss of any cubs they are currently raising, to create a speedy decline in numbers of grizzlies.

    Michael, you are right. Grizzlies could adapt to warming, if we allowed them to migrate and take advantage of food at lower elevations outside the deep mountains. They are omnivoires and would do very well, but as you indicate, they will be shot instead. That should be obvious to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but we have seen how the Bush Administration stifles science. It has gotten so that one can hardly believe any statement from the government on a science issue, but they have so often been massaged and checked first and modified by the Administration’s political chieftains. webmaster.

  12. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    You are a tiny bit 😉 parochial!

    There are mass pine tree die offs due to beetles in many places in the West, and on a much vaster scale in British Columbia and Alberta.

    The cause is well known, and it’s not environmentalists unless you suppose they become more proportionately more numerous as you move north.

    The cause is warm winters. If it gets -20 degrees F for several weeks, like it used to do, the beetles die. If it doesn’t they spread and spread and . . . you get the idea.

    There have been many articles and it, and I have posted some of them on this blog. I have also seen it myself in Canada and places in Idaho.

    I will keep folks informed about this aspect of global warming

    Now with the whitebark pine in particular, which is so important to grizzly bears, they are also being killed by white bark pine blister rust, a non-native parasite that has been spreading down the Rocky Mountains from Montana, and now into the Greater Yellowstone. Folks should read this

  13. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    elk hunter,
    and if they went in and sprayed the only thing that would be affected would be that beetle and nothing else—-no birds—-no fish—–no other insects. ——–!!—–good lord———lets just bring back DDT.

  14. be Avatar

    another side effect of spray is predatory species which feed on the insects as JEFF E says. Spraying is usually a short term solution that can have great long term drawbacks. If you eliminate completely the beetles – than any predatory species who may be establishing populations that in the long term may help are lost – you lose any natural mitigation which may be building and soon are completely dependent on spray. beetle populations spike and valley(spray) rather than have any chance at a manageable number which keeps those helpful-predators around – not to mention the stuff inevitably ends up in the water… just something to think about.. – i’m not familiar with the bark beetle’s in forests, but the principle applies to greenhouses and gardens – IPM

  15. elkhunter Avatar

    there is no long term, half our mountain is gone, so you must be talking like 30-60 years from now. And should you not be glad that the bear population has reached the point that they can delist. It seems like every time an animal recovers and can be delisted you guys throw a fit! That is what the program does, raise populations so they are not endangered anymore! Or is it something else? I am sure you will have lots of reasons why bears and wolves should be on the endangered species list till the earth ends. You guys can never be satisfied, it is a lose lose no matter what any state or federal government agency does for you guys, its never enough!

  16. be Avatar

    i am glad that the bear numbers are doing so well. i hope that the agency is able to evaluate the beatle’s effect on the bears habitat and encorporate those management decisions (wise we all hope) – as well as any number of other factors that could implicate the bear numbers – into the determination about whether it is wise to delist now.

    i hope that the agency has considered and founded a sound decision which determines the beetle’s will have minimal effect on bear numbers…

  17. elkhunter Avatar

    You have some good points, but just like you said to me when we talked about wolves and the rut, they have been living with each other for hundreds of years, and you said that the elk would adapt. And I agreed with you, I think that same line of thinking goes with this. I doubt this is the first time in the last thousand years that this beetle problem has came along, and just like you said the elk would adapt to a new predator, I am sure that bears can adapt to this. I just see this as a ploy to try and keep bears on the list. I bet they can adapt pretty well, just like any other animal.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan