Greater Yellowstone Grizzly Bear MOU between Montana, Idaho and Wyoming

Very important. You can comment until August 12-

Send your comments to Attn: Wildlife
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks
POB 200701
Helena MT 59620-0701

This MOU paves the way for sport hunting of grizzly bears in this large delisted population. This splits the “discretionary” mortality (surplus) bears between the three states. It might be meaningless because there has been no surplus of late. Instead, the grizzly will possibly be put back on the threatened species list in the Greater Yellowstone. It depends on how many more bears are killed this year. On the other hand, if accidental and illegal deaths decline, this could be meaningful.

This has been under the radar for me. Below is the Memorandum of Understanding.



June 2009



Wyoming Game and Fish Commission,

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and

Idaho Department of Fish and Game

This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is made and entered into by and between the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission (WGFD), Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) and Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), collectively referred to as the Parties.

I.  Purpose

The purpose of this MOU is to define the process by which the Parties will coordinate annual efforts to develop recommendations for the allocation of discretionary mortality, if any, of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem for hunting consistent with the Final Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy for the Greater Yellowstone Area and state management plans.

II.  Background

The Final Conservation Strategy for Grizzly Bears in the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA) establishes maximum allowable mortality limits for adult male and female, as well as dependent young, grizzly bears in the ecosystem to ensure the entire population maintains an overall growth rate equal to, or greater than zero.  The Conservation Strategy incorporates state management plans that have different, but compatible, management objectives for the three state parties.  Specifically, the state of Wyoming’s objective is to limit further expansion of the population in size and distribution per “Grizzly Bear Occupancy Management Following Delisting as a Threatened Species” (2005).  The states of Idaho and Montana have an objective of allowing the population to expand into biologically suitable and socially acceptable areas.

The Parties are committed to minimizing the amount of grizzly bear mortality due to conflict with human activities and defense of life and property or other management removals, collectively referred to as “non-discretionary mortality.”  To the extent non-discretionary mortality can be held below the maximum allowable levels for the entire Yellowstone population, “discretionary mortality” outside of the National Parks could be available for allocation to other purposes, including translocation to other ecosystems, or hunter harvest as provided for in the Conservation Strategy, state plans, state laws, and regulations.

III.  The Parties Shall

  1. Cooperate in carrying out the purpose and objectives of this MOU consistent with the Conservation Strategy for the Grizzly Bear in the Greater Yellowstone Area and state plans.
  2. Recognize the IGBST as the entity that will determine, based on the best available science, the total amount of allowable mortality for each year, to be reported to the Parties no later than January 15 of said year, as well as the total amount of non-discretionary mortality that occurs each year, to be reported no later than December 31 each year.
  3. Meet no later than February 1 of each year to review the amount and distribution of non-discretionary mortality that occurred in the prior year and allocate discretionary mortality, if any, from the prior year.  Any discretionary mortality will be additive to the non-discretionary mortality and will occur in the following year to assure the total allowable take for the previous year is not exceeded. These decisions will be an interest-based negotiation that recognizes population growth and mortality are not uniform across the entire GYA grizzly population and accommodates each party’s management objectives to the greatest extent possible; such negotiations shall seek to reach consensus of the Parties and no decision reached without consensus shall be binding on any of the Parties.
  4. Each state agency responsible for wildlife management shall base their recommendations to their respective Commissions for the amount and distribution of hunter harvest, if any, on the outcome of the negotiations.

IV.  Authorities

This MOU is entered under the provisions of the following laws:

Title 87 Montana Code Annotated

Title 23 Wyoming Statutes Annotated

Idaho Code 36-104(b)(9)

V.  It is Mutually Agreed and Understood By the Parties that:

  1. The Parties will designate one representative each from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and Idaho Department of Fish and Game as respective Points of Contact for purposes of achieving the objectives of this MOU.
  2. This MOU in no way restricts the Parties from participating in similar activities with other states or agencies.
  3. This MOU is neither a fiscal nor a funds obligation document.  Any endeavor or transfer of anything of value involving reimbursement or contribution of funds between the Parties will be handled in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and procedures and such endeavors will be outlined in separate agreements or contracts that shall be made in writing by representatives of the Parties.  This MOU does not provide such authority.

VI.  Term of MOU

This MOU shall commence upon the day and date last signed and executed by the duly authorized representatives of the Parties to this MOU, and shall remain in full force for five years, at which time it will be subject to review and renewal, or expiration.  This MOU may be terminated, without cause, by any of the Parties upon thirty (30) days written notice, which notice shall be delivered by hand or certified mail.

VII.  Severability

Should any portion of this MOU be judicially determined to be illegal or unenforceable, the remainder of the MOU shall continue in full force and effect, and the parties may renegotiate the terms affected by the severance.

VIII.  Sovereign Immunity

The states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho do not waive their sovereign immunity by entering into this MOU, and each fully retains all immunities and defenses provided by law with respect to any action based on or occurring as a result of this MOU.

IN Witness Thereof, the Parties hereto have executed this Memorandum of Understanding as of the last written date below.

_________________________________________     ____________________

Director, Wyoming Game and Fish Department                     Date

_________________________________________     ____________________

Wyoming Chief Fiscal Officer                                                     Date


__________________________________________     ___________________

Senior Assistant Attorney General                                              Date

__________________________________________     ___________________

Director, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks                               Date

__________________________________________     ___________________

Director, Idaho Department of Fish and Game                          Date



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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