Protection still crucial for grizzly recovery

Joel Connelly: Protection still crucial for grizzly recovery. Seattle P-I.

The lawsuit over the delisting of the grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone is still out there, and going to the 9th circuit. Interesting, because  I wasn’t aware that the district court had rulled against the plaintiffs.

Connelly’s column isn’t about that, however. It’s about the habitat threats the griz faces.

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Note: Connelly is the Post-Intelligencer’s leading columnist.






  1. jerry b Avatar
    jerry b

    Anyone have info on the district court ruling? I also wasn’t aware they ruled against the plaintiffs.

  2. Chuck Parker Avatar
    Chuck Parker

    2 issues to consider. One, Ph.D. wildlife biologist Chuck Jonkel with the Great Bear Foundation has long noted that you can’t have more bears than you have bear habitat–and about 1/3 of Yellowstone area grizzlies live outside the official recovery zone. Logic dictates that after grizzlies are delisted, the bear population will eventually drop by 1/3, which would put them back on the list of threatened and endangered species. US Fish & Wildllife Service grizzly bear recovery coordinator Chris Servheen claims that even after delisting, this habitat outside the recovery zone will be well protected for grizzlies. That’s difficult to believe given that most of the habitat is on US Forest Service land. In addition, the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho are all eager to start legal hunting season on grizzlies.

    Two, in order to delist grizzlies, Servheen and the agencies juggled the numbers in to create a huge increase in the grizzly population. For decades, estimates on the overall grizzly populations have been based on extrapolations from the number of unduplicated sightings of sows with cubs. In the past, unduplicated sightings of 48 sows with cubs meant the overall population was 400 bears. Using new math, 48 sows with cubs meant the overall population was 600 bears. Yee-haw, let’s delist them damn grizzlies!!!!! In the past, all the grizzlies killed by elk hunters and various agency “management actions” meant the mortality rate was too high to delist grizzlies. But since new math created hundreds of new bears, the same number of dead grizzlies that once precluded delisting was now OK. Yahooo, let’s start hunting grizzlies!!!!!

    Servheen and the agencies couldn’t explain the new math to Albert Einstein or Steven Hawkings, let alone you or your Congressional representatives.

    If you trust that Serveen and the agencies got the new math right, and that the US Forest Service will provide adequate protection for bear habitat, then grizzlies are in great shape and delisting is not an issue.


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