Fed judge says Greater Yellowstone grizzlies must go back on list!

Grizzly feeding on elk © Ken Cole
Grizzly feeding on elk © Ken Cole

GYE grizzly bears go back on the threatened species list-

Molloy: Feds must restore protection for grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park – By Matthew Brown. Associated Press. The successful plaintiff was the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. There is a second lawsuit filed in Idaho by a number of other conservation groups. It was assigned to Judge Lodge. No decision was been made by the court.

The headline in Brown’s story is misleading because the order to relist is not just for Yellowstone Park, but for the much larger area around the Park — the “greater” Yellowstone, and relisting’s effect for this area is where most of the controversy lies.

U.S. judge reverses Bush, puts grizzlies on endangered [threatened] list. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman

Read the judge’s Order

Grizzly Bears had remained on the list in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem and the Cabinet-Yaak (both in NW Montana). They have also remained on the list in the Selkirk (Northern Idaho and NE Washington state), the Selway-Bitterroot in central Idaho where there are no bears, and the North Cascades where there are a handful of bears up in northwest Washington against the B.C. border.  However, the grizzlies of Yellowstone and the adjacent area are the best known population in the lower 48.

The numerous threats to grizzly bear food sources, especially whitebark pine, were a major factor in Judge Molloy’s decision.

Earthjustice’s Press Release :

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:   September 21, 2009

CONTACT:   Doug Honnold, Earthjustice, 406-586-9699

Protections Restored for Yellowstone Grizzly Bears

Bozeman, MT  —  A federal district court today ordered Endangered Species Act protections reinstated for the Yellowstone area’s iconic grizzly bear population.  The court overturned the delisting of Yellowstone’s grizzly bears because of inadequate state laws and the ongoing demise of whitebark pine caused by global warming.

Yellowstone grizzlies rely on high-fat seeds of whitebark pine as a key food source in critical months before hibernation. Warming temperatures have enabled mountain pine beetles to kill high-altitude whitebark pine trees at alarming rates.  Availability of whitebark pine seeds is essential to female grizzly bear reproductive success.  Because they grow in high, remote places, whitebark pine forests also keep grizzly bears out of harm’s way: in poor seed years, grizzlies seek foods elsewhere, bumping into people more and dying at rates 2-3 times higher than in good seed years.

Grizzly bears in the lower-48 states were reduced to one percent of their historic range and one to two percent of their historic numbers due to persecution, poisoning, predator control efforts, livestock grazing, sport hunting, and habitat destruction associated with the march of human development.  More than 270 scientists urged FWS not to delist the Yellowstone grizzly bear population.

Under the invalidated delisting decision, more than 40 percent of currently occupied grizzly bear habitat in the Yellowstone ecosystem received no habitat protection.  Nearly 2 million acres of high-quality grizzly bear habitat was opened to increased motorized access, more than 630,000 acres was opened for logging, and more than 850,000 acres was opened to oil and gas development in the Yellowstone ecosystem.  With today’s court ruling, these lands are once again governed by Endangered Species Act protections.  Now that Yellowstone grizzlies are again listed as a threatened species, the federal government can develop a new recovery plan that takes into account the ravages of global warming.  It will require a new recovery zone that protects more bear habitat so that bears can withstand the impacts of global warming.

“FWS argued that because Yellowstone grizzly bears were omnivores, they would adapt to the loss of their key food source—the fatty seeds of whitebark pine trees.  Because all of the science said that in the Yellowstone ecosystem whitebark pine drives grizzly bear reproductive and mortality rates, the judge rightly rejected the government’s ‘let them eat cake’ approach to recovery,” said Doug Honnold, one of the lawyers on the case.

Earthjustice aided lead counsel Jack Tuholske in the Greater Yellowstone Coalition case filed in Montana, in which Judge Molloy invalidated the delisting decision.

In a related case in Idaho, Earthjustice and Advocates for the West represent the Western Watersheds Project, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Center for Biological Diversity, Great Bear Foundation, and the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance.
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  1. Virginia Avatar

    Thank you, Judge Molloy! Andrea Peacock sent a petition to me to sign to save the Yellowstone Grizzly.
    To-date, only 290 people have signed it. They are hoping for 1,000,000 signatures. Please sign at:


  2. JimT Avatar

    It’s a start, and a good sign for the wolf case that Malloy is willing to look at science and rule. And an interesting connection…finally…to the realities of climate change and effects on animals.

    I am surprised Doug isn’t driving around the West with sheets of paper, demanding people sign or else…;*)

    I would encourage Andrea to do the following…make a brief video about the issue, and post it on YouTube and Facebook with the information about the petition. Seems that is the way to go these days; even fund raising is now heading in that direction..

  3. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Glad to see they did not him and haw over this.

  4. JimT Avatar

    Or even “her and haw”…;*)

  5. Virginia Avatar

    I hope everyone still signs the petition, because evidently the bear is only on the “threatened” list, it needs to be on the “endangered” list.

  6. janet Avatar

    Thanks to all the groups involved in this litigation. Also for going after this for so many years! Special thanks to Louisa and Doug, they are amazing!

  7. gline Avatar

    and many more years perhaps. perhaps the next lawsuit will be the last, in favor of keeping a biological healthy level of this species of course.

  8. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    What should “we the people” do about US Fish & Wildlife Service Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator Chris Servheen. Think of Servheen as coach of the Notre Dame football team + CEO of General Motors. When Notre Dame loses and loses and loses, who do you fire? The coach. When General Motors failed, who did we fire? The CEO. Why not fire Servheen?

    Servheen has been in charge of grizzly bear recovery for more than 25 years. His bear recovery program has failed. He’s a Bush-style commander in chief. Time for a new leader.

  9. jerryB Avatar

    .I agree Dave, but that would be tough to do with orgs like The Montana Wildlife Association, The National Wildlife Association etc that are Servheen’s biggest cheerleaders.
    Servheen should be replaced with a Chuck Jonkel type.

  10. Virginia Avatar

    To dave smith: here! here! I went to a meeting in Cody many years ago put on by Chris Servheen. It was obvious from what he said that his goal was to de-list and make all the hunters happy.

  11. JimT Avatar

    Sadly, it seems like these environmental fights are never over…but I do so appreciate any progress that is made

  12. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    When it comes to grizzlies, I think that if we put national interests on public lands (more grizzlies please) ahead of local interests (kill em’ all) we could significantly expand the range of grizzlies, and have a larger bear population.

    Chris Servheen plays to local political and economic interests. They want the minimum # of bears in the smallest possible geographic area. Servheen uses his bully pulpit as U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service grizzly bear coordinator to preach to the press that what he wants–which is what ranchers and local politicians want–is what the government and informed biologists want. It works. Servheen represents the lowest common denominator, yet he’s regarded as reasonable. The poor bureaucrat caught in the middle.

  13. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    It appears that the goats of Chris Servheen and Ed Bangs are very similar — different species that’s all.

  14. Rick Hammel Avatar
    Rick Hammel


    You hit that nail right on the head. Ed has been preaching delisting for 6 years that I am aware of. Biologically, they still are a long way from that benchmark.


  15. JB Avatar

    I don’t believe the problem is with the people on the ground–certainly not in Ed Bangs case (I don’t know Servheen). Rather, there is a pretty clear track record of political meddling from “higher ups” in the case of wolves and lynx.

    Moreover, you might want to consider the implication of replacing career scientists because their actions conflict with your political agenda. In my estimation, this is the ultimate hypocrisy from those who claim to want “scientific” management.

  16. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Sorry JimT, I wasn’t being sensitive.

  17. jimt Avatar

    It was a joke, ProWolf.. You mistyped “him” instead of “hem” in an earlier post…I guess it wasn’t much of a joke if no one got it. Guess that’s why I didn’t go into stand up comedy..;*)

  18. jimt Avatar

    From what I “hear”, Ed started out strong, but just got beat up time and time again by the higher ups, and then just started taking the easy way out, ie, stopped bucking the higher ups. Hard to judge what we would have done in his place, but the fact remains, he hasn’t been a big help in the wolf fight these last several years. Happens too many times in the Federal agencies for my liking…good folks who disagree with the local powers that be..grazing and game hunting in this case are marginalized, transferred to a hell hole, or fired. Look what happened to Gloria Flora at USFS…

  19. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Sorry jimt. I didn’t realize that was how it was spelled. Guess I need to go back to school. 🙁

  20. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    JB–Any suggestions on what to do about career scientists who lie to the public to protect/advance their career. Are scientists who lie about science really scientists? Would scientific prostitutes be a more apt name? Should they be required to tell the public when they’re telling the real truth, and when they’re making up political truths? How are people supposed to know the difference? After all, we trust scientists and their research.

  21. Cris Waller Avatar
    Cris Waller

    “Any suggestions on what to do about career scientists who lie to the public to protect/advance their career.”

    It’s very, very hard. As long as Federal agencies are at the whim of political pressures, it’s probably inevitable.

    I have a friend who is a staff biologist in the Endangered Species division for FWS. Because he doesn’t quite march to the agency drummer (especially during the last administration) he gets assigned to work on species like beetles…

  22. nabeki Avatar

    I’m happy about this decision but sad we have to keep fighting the same battles over and over. We need more and better education in the schools concerning environmental issues, especially in wild places like Montana. There are just so many uninformed people out there perpetuating myths about the grizzly and especially the wolf.


  23. JB Avatar


    If they are caught in a clear lie, they should be fired, period. However, I don’t think they should be fired or demoted for advocating for management actions that are based upon the policy decisions made by higher ups. If they were, whatever administration was in charge would simply replace them with people more amiable to their own positions. This would be moving backward in my estimation (i.e. making the positions more, not less, political).

  24. JB Avatar

    “Would scientific prostitutes be a more apt name?”

    No. Scientists don’t decide what species should be emphasized or how ambiguous language in statutes (such as the ESA) are to be interpreted. They simply provide data that helps inform this process. Ultimately, politicians make the “wicked” decisions; the decisions about what types of things lands should produce and whose land-use priority should be emphasized.

    Whose use wins out is a political decision, not a scientific one.

  25. nabeki Avatar

    Now that Judge Molloy has ruled in favor of the Yellowstone Grizzly I feel confidant he will restore protections for the gray wolf. I read that arguments on the merits of the case won’t start until Spring, which allows the wolf hunt in Idaho to continue until the end of March. That is concerning since wolves mate between February and March.


  26. Brian Ertz Avatar

    i believe the terminology is “biostitute”

  27. JB Avatar

    A side note: I found an interesting publication on grizzly conflicts in Alaska this morning that I thought might interest some folks here. Below is the abstract and citation:

    Abstract: We present a new paradigm for understanding habituation and the role it plays in brown bear (Ursus arctos) populations and interactions with humans in Alaska. We assert that 3 forms of habituation occur in Alaska: bear-to-bear, bear-to-human, and human-to-bear. We present data that supports our theory that bear density is an important factor influencing a bear’s overt reaction distance (ORD); that as bear density increases, overt reaction distance decreases, as does the likelihood of bear–human interactions. We maintain that the effects of bear-to-bear habituation are largely responsible for not only shaping bear aggregations but also for creating the relatively safe environment for bear viewing experienced at areas where there are high densities of brown bears. By promoting a better understanding of the forces that shape bear social interactions within populations and with humans that mingle with them, we can better manage human activities and minimize bear–human conflict.

    Smith, T.S., Herrero, S., & DeBruyn, T.D. 2005. Alaska brown bears, humans, and habituation. Ursus 16(1):1-10.

  28. pointswest Avatar

    I too am happy about the decision but think the long term solution is more gizzly-priority habitat. Why not enlarge Yellowstone Park? Then you could have a large area that is grizzly-priority and also be wolf-priority. Enlarge the Park out to some natural boundaries. Maybe some fencing could be added in key locations to discourage travel across boundaries. It would not be perfect but it would be much better than what we have now. I know it sounds expensive and cataclysmic, but it could be done slowly over many decades and the bugs worked out.

    Doing nothing might be expensive and cataclysmic too.

  29. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    I don’t think you are going to find much support at all in the three states this would be affected by an enlargement of Yellowstone..

  30. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    The article points out that taxpayers have funded $20 million on research since grizzlies were listed; why not put that research to use? The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team has detailed maps that provide a clear picture of where grizzlies are trying to live–and about 1/3 of Yellowstone grizzlies live beyond the boundaries of the “primary conservation area” where grizzlies are reasonably well-protected. If you don’t extend the boundary line, 1/3 of the grizzlies are gonna die. Duh, why not move the damn boundary lines?

    U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator Chris Servheen is essentially the captain of a 200 passenger jet, but he’s jamming 300 people on the plane and saying, no worries. It’s safe. Trust me.

    Judge Malloy told Servheen he was nuts. Judge Malloy was right.

  31. Linda Hunter Avatar

    JB that article can be found at


    Or just google habituation in bears.
    I have quoted from that paper here several times.

  32. pointswest Avatar

    It does not matter what Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho wants. It is a national park and there are 50 states.

  33. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Enlarging the park, would violate the 10th amendment of the constitution, in other words, to expand the park, you would have to either buy or seize state owned land and private property. I don’t think you are going to find the state governments to open to that idea and I pretty well can say, the owners of the private land are not going to take it lightly…

  34. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    And don’t get me wrong, I am all for increased Grizzly bear habitat, but you can’t just start enlarging national parks on a whim, it does matter what Montana, Wyoming and Idaho think and have to say, they are part of the United States of America, not the socialist states of America, so you have to honor the sovereignty amendment of the Constitution, that is the document that is suppose to govern us all…

  35. pointswest Avatar

    Depending on how far out the expansion goes, a very small percentage is state or private land. Most is already Federal land, Forrest Service or BLM. The states could swap the little bits of land they own, and the Fed can twist state arms. Private land could remain private but with restrictions. Some private land could be swapped or grandfathered out.

    They did it in Teton Park and in the Columbia River Gorge.

  36. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    What are you going to do with West Yellowstone and Gardiner? The Columbia River Gorge is still privately owned with a designation of National Scenic area, I just came through there Yesterday and there is still a ton of land that is private, in fact I spent over an hour looking at a 50 acre parcel that I am considering purchasing. Teton was actually given to the Fed’s for the most part. Things are a whole bunch different now than they were in 1872 and all I am saying, you are going to find strong opposition to expanding the park…

    The idea of expanding Yellowstone has been floated around for many years now and has never gained any traction, because the logistical problems that it would involve…

  37. pointswest Avatar

    America is a first and foremost a democracy, the first since ancient times. A few private land owners do not run the show here.

    My great grand kids are going to expericne the thrill of seeing a grizzly bear in Yellowstone.

  38. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    America is a Representative republic and I hope your grand-kids do get to see Grizzlies in Yellowstone, were not talking about a few private land owners, your dealing with some pretty large land areas here, it is going to take cooperative agreements and understanding to enlarge Grizz Habitat, which I for one, hope happens, but to do what your saying would be a nightmare…Your going to have to deal with land owners, State Governments, State Representatives, State Congressmen, city governments, etc. Not going to be easy…I for one, don’t like the idea of given the Fed’s more power than they currently enjoy…

  39. pointswest Avatar

    Teton Park and the Columbia Gorge were each very different.

    Teton Park was mostly bought up in the 30’s by Rockefeller and his Snake River Land Company who then gifted it to the Fed. Some of his tacktics were very unscrupulous and the Fed, at first, did not accept the gift. Some parcels Rockefeller was unable to buy were later condemned with grandfather rights. The owners were allowed to keep but not sell. The could pass the land to their children and their children’s children but upon the death of the grandchildren, the Fed took deed. I assume there was compensation of some kind to the decendents.

    Columbia River Gorge mostly remained private and existing homes, agriculture, and business remained but with restrictions. The most important restriction was that the owners could not subdivide the land.

    Something like this could be done with an expanded Yellowstone.

  40. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    What ever pointswest, it is indeed a nice dream, but after working for a government agency in the wildlife field, I just don’t see it happening. it is going to take cooperative agreements and working together to accomplish more habitat for grizzlies. They have not even been able to classify Yellowstone as a wilderness area yet, but yet you are advocating expanding it, I don’t think we will ever seen it in our lifetimes…

    Doing it with Yellowstone is going to take a lot more work than you seem to think, as far as compensation, I did a stint working with Glacier National Park, and there was not much compensation involved when an inholder died, in fact it was pennies on the dollar, which is now why many won’t sell to the Fed’s

  41. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    As far as subdividing in the Gorge, it is happening every single day there, I was amazed at the number of housing developments I saw yesterday going through there…there is one located just east of Stevenson, WA that has over 200 parcels available for sale and development…

  42. pointswest Avatar

    It is not a lot of privite land. Study the maps. They could easily double or even tripple the size of Yellowstone without enclosing very much private land. The private land would only be 2 or 3 percent of new park land…depending on what you include or exclude.

    If some land remained private, as in the Columbia Gorge, it may become much more valuable where it would be inside of Yellowstone Park. There are already restrictions on subdivision in most counties around Yellowstone. I think you could make the process fairly painless.

    What is the preferred alternative?

  43. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    “What is the preferred alternative”

    I don’t know, but I think it rests with working together instead of making it contentious, I think that is a better way to go, get new managers in place and start ironing things out between the states and the feds, it comes down to the old saying. “Ask me to do anything and I am likely to agree, Force me to do anything, and I am likely to rebel and tell you where to get off”

    Now as far as subdivisions around Yellowstone, you might do some research, as I remember there was a very large subdivision that was approved, something like 600 parcels that homes could be built on, I have not heard much about it the last few months, but I do know it was approved.

    There will be no development between Yellowstone and Teton as that is a national byway, but going North, East and West could present some very difficult logistical problems, I don’t know where you live, but in those three areas there are quite a few people and two towns, that if we read the news reports are thriving because of wolf re-introduction..

  44. Linda Hunter Avatar

    Save bears because I live in Stevenson I know just which development you are talking about. . it is inside the urban growth area of the little town. The national scenic area act is still working here and surprisingly it did not seem to cause the economic hardship the residents pictured when the act came into existence. Instead this area gets more valuable as other areas are trashed around it. . . this is a great place to be except “we don’t got no grizzly bears here to speak of. . . ” By the way Save Bears if you are really looking into settling in the area I could probably save you some investigation time as I know the area pretty well. Feel free to email me. My website has the address.

  45. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Hi Linda,

    We are looking in Carson, I have always been fond of that area, and found a parcel that I like quite a bit, it does concern me that the grocery closed in Carson, but of course in the whole scheme, there are grocery stores close…but I am very seriously looking into that area, I will get a hold of ya

  46. Debra K Avatar
    Debra K

    IMO, a lot more could be accomplished to protect grizzly bears in the short term by giving incentives for voluntary retirement of cattle and sheep grazing allotments on USFS & BLM lands in the Greater Yellowstone area. Id suggest that pointswest devote energy along those lines, rather than chasing after an enlargement of YNP.

    I’m with savebears that such a proposal is unlikely to succeed, at least in the next decade or so.

  47. JimT Avatar

    Voluntary or not, the grazing leases around Yellowstone need to go for a whole host of reasons that have been debated here and in DC for years. . Let the Feds give them market value, but remember folks, despite what you hear from the granges, these are LEASES, not in fee rights, and as such, revocable. And I suspect folks might be willing to sell their private lands/inholdings if offered a fair price, and it became apparent that they can’t continue ranching without Uncle Sam’s subsidies. Now, THAT is an issue for all of us, not just the states surrounding Yellowstone, SaveBears. And I resent the fact that my taxes go to public land ranchers.

  48. pointswest Avatar

    There are a lot more subdivisions proposed in the GYE than 600. I belive the Lamont Land and Cattle Company alone was 2000 parcels. But it is in an area outside of any boundried I would propose.

    I think if you are going to have a big Park, you will need private areas with developement inside of it. It just needs to be reasonable development and be in concert with the park in certain aspects.

    And I am not expecting it to happen in the next couple of years. It would need to be studied and decided and planned for at least five or more years. I believe other conservation efforts should continue. But we can talk about it now.

    Let’s see how people feel after the Ken Burn’s Series airs on PBS in the next few weeks.

  49. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    Your not the only one that resents it!, I have been fighting against public lands ranching for over 20 years now….the only thing standing in the way, is that little document called the Constitution, that guarantees the states sovereignty…kind of a tough one to get over, when you start talking about taking lands and expanding Federal areas into sovereign states.

    I will add, there are one hell of a lot of things I resent my taxes going to…and public lands ranching is just one of them…

  50. JB Avatar

    There are many Parks and Monuments that surround private lands–including some ranches (e.g. Point Reyes National Seashore). I don’t think private ownership is a big obstacle. However, the USDA will howl like crazy if you try transferring land from the Forest Service to the Park Service (USDI).

  51. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    pointswest, it took over 150 years to get into the mess we currently enjoy, if you think studying it for 5 years will go anywhere close to solving it, I think you are being naive..

    As I said, the idea has been kicked around for decades and still has not come to any meaningful dialog..

  52. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    JB, pretty much has hit the nail on the head, when you start talking about taking power from one federal agency and turning it over to another! Now you got a hell of a fight on your hands, those types of things can spend decades in committee as well as court…and still not accomplish anything!

  53. Linda Hunter Avatar

    But, to use the Columbia River Gorge as an example this legislation the National Scenic Area Act is relatively new being passed in 1987. There were lots of private landowners, a few open spaces and towns who wanted more industry. It took a group of wealthy outsiders who formed a non-profit group called “Friends of the Gorge” about 10 years of hard work and lots of money to get it done. It really is a great model of protection without making people move. However, it protected the scenic quality of the gorge and it wasn’t a strong enough act for me as it is weak on protecting wildlife habitat, only because they don’t know much about what goes on here with wildlife. Historically all the animals in this area migrated out of the high country and wintered along the river where there was less snow and a more mild climate. When people came here that’s where they settled and developed. Now I see the only hope for animals is to teach people how to live with animals on their property including predators. I could see some form of this kind of legislation around Yellowstone as a protection for extended habitat and rules on living with wildlife. They could call it the Yellowstone National Habitat Act. YNHA Now you just need one dedicated person to start the group called Friends of Yellowstone Animals.

  54. JimT Avatar

    States’s rights have nothing to do with federal grazing permits, SaveBears. I would love to see an up to date map of the park and adjoining public land grazing leases to get a better idea of how fragmented the area would be, and what would be involved. Frankly, I am tired of the interagency battles over turf..USFS has not such a great record of land management, and turning it over to Parks certainly couldn’t be worse from an ecosystem perspective, and you can sell it to the American public easily. Everyone loves Yellowstone…to death, at times..~S~

    As for taxes…well, another discussion..VBG…I do wish I had a line item check list I could tell the Feds and states where and what I want my dollars to go towards. Now THAT would be true democracy…~S~

  55. pointswest Avatar

    I grew up within 15 miles of Yellowstone. I have never heard any proposals to enlarge it. In fact, they were logging in the Targhee NF to beat the band and I believe it was Idaho’s Senators who were behind this for economic reasons. No one had really heard of an ecosystem and all the land around the Park was already public land anyway. Most preferred public land to be NFS land since you could hunt, log, and graze on it and there was plenty of wildlife around.

    A whole new set of problems emerged as the grizzlies recovered and after wolves were reintroduced in the late 90’s. All the press and excitement over the grizzlies and wolves sent the real estate in the GYE into the stratosphere. Farmland or ranchland in Idaho that was worth 800 an acre in 1998 can now fetch up to $80,000 an acre. Yes…I can provide examples. So tourism, recreation, and real estate are now of a larger economic concern that is farming or ranching. Logging is finished and has been finished for awhile.

    Things are different now. It was not like this before. It is not true that proposals to enlarge the Park have been around for years.

  56. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    pointswest, it was talked about when I worked for Fish Wildlife and parks, it was talked about when I was attending college at Washington State University, it was talked about when the massive slaughters of Bison that migrated from the park were slaughtered. Whether you heard about it or not, the idea has been around for quite a while now and has never gained any traction, heck I spoke to the Yellowstone coalition several years ago and was told that was not a political fight they even wanted to touch.

    Yes, I have been around for a while, many years of it as a biologist for Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks..so I have heard this proposal several times over the years…

  57. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    That was when the massive slaughters of bison were started

  58. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    That is one of the biggest problems, “Everybody loves Yellowstone to Death!”

  59. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    A few private land owners do not run the show here.

    Unfortunately pointswest, a few private landowners do run the show in the states of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana.

    I have never heard these discussions myself, but it would be interesting to see an expanded park. Especially in buffalo wintering ground.

  60. pointswest Avatar

    I suppose I had heard of the idea of expanding Yellowstone but there were never any convincing arguments to do it unitl after the wolves and grizzlies came back which has been very recently. Actually, I have still not heard any convincing arguments. I am making them up as I go along.

    I think the writting is on the wall, however.

  61. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    I agree the writing is on the wall for those of us that pay attention to these issues everyday….

    Unfortunately, the other 90% of the country does not pay attention to these issues everyday and often times will express outrage, only to not do any followup…

    Sorry after so many years, I am becoming very cynical..

  62. pointswest Avatar

    Everyone is aware of the new PBS series starting next week?


  63. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Save bears and pointswest, what is the writing on the wall for? Expansion of Yellowstone?

    Pointswest, I didn’t know about that upcoming series. Thank-you.

  64. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    I am well aware of the special coming up and will watch it with great interest.

    No, I don’t think the writing is on the wall for expansion, but I do think the writing is on the wall for the reduction of public lands ranching..I only hope to witness it in my lifetime, but whether I do or not, I do eventually feel it will fall by the wayside..

  65. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    I agree that public land ranching may fall on the wayside.

  66. Virginia Avatar

    Logging is continuing in the Shoshone National Forest – beetle kill is pretty horrible on the Northfork and in the areas near Meeteetse. It has also been ongoing in the Sunlight Basin area. The forest is our entry to Yellowstone, some areas are grazed, some aren’t. Many people have recently been seeing more bears up the Northfork than in Yellowstone. Our illustrious editor of he Cody Enterprise has an editorial this week criticizing Judge Molloy for making his decision based on science! Unbelieveable!

  67. pointswest Avatar

    I think the Park will be expanded.

    The comeback of the wolf and grizzly has people very interested and excited in Yellowstone. Yellowstone is more popular than it has ever been. I can remember when the ecology movement got underway in the 70’s, most of the interest was in Colorado. A dozen big ski resorts opened there. There was a TV series call Grizzly Adams that took place in Colorado. There was another TV series about a mountain family in Colorado. John Denver was from Colorado and sang Rocky Mountain High. Over time, however, the public became more familiar with the geography and ecology of the West and I believe by the mid 80’s they realized that there was substantially more wildlife and beautiful mountain scenery in the Teton-Yellowstone area. The grizzly was put on the endangered species list. Teton County, Wyoming displaced Pitkin County, Colorado as the nation’s richest county. The wolves were reintroduced. Real estate values all around the Park skyrocketed. Everyone is interested in Yellowstone now. You see documentary after documentary on Yellowstone and almost nothing on Colorado anymore. The wolf problems and grizzly problems are constantly making the national news. Yellowstone is a World Heritage site (or something like that). There is world interest in Yellowstone and the world watches or reads news and documentary about Yellowstone.

    Things have really changed in the past 30 years. Many of the adjacent area of Yellowstone have been preserved into Wilderness Areas. Lawsuits by well funded ecology groups have effectively protected areas without special designation. Logging in the area has nearly stopped.

    People want a wild place in America where they can see buffalo, elk, moose, wolves and grizzlies. People have become quite savvy about what it will take to make sure they’re around. People know that the rectangular boundaries of Yellowstone are not enough and that greedy, selfish, or stupid action might jeopardize the ecology of the Yellowstone Area.

    The delisting and relisting of the grizzly only ads to the drama and proves that something more substantial needs to be done. It will be interesting how the delisting of the wolves plays out. It too has been a drama and shows that we do not have a solution.

    The writing is on the wall.

  68. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Pointswest, maybe the writing is on the wall for more grizzly and wolf reintroductions into places like Colorado so they can compete with Yellowstone. Wishful thinking?

  69. pointswest Avatar

    …or California. California has the grizzly (or Brown bear) on the State Flag because the state was once covered with grizzlies.

    I do not believe California or Colorado has the large contiguous wilderness areas that Idaho or Yellowstone has, nor the wildlife…but maybe in southern Colorado in and around the Weminuche.

    California might designate a large area too in and around its large National Parks.

    As I’ve alluded to earlier, I think the solution will be to create a couple of large wilderness areas (or Parks) and then sort of fence them in over time. In general, these large predators are a lot of trouble for humans. I think we should preserve them but the sensible way is by giving them their own turf and basically separating them from normal day-to-day human activities…have clear boundries between grizzly-priority and human-priority areas.

  70. gline Avatar

    So do you mean a zoo, pointswest???

  71. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Fencing it in and separating, sounds a lot like a zoo to me, I sure hope it does not come to that! That goes completely against the reason the National Park Service was set up for..

  72. pointswest Avatar

    Oh no! …not a zoo. I mean an ooz. An ooz is like a zoo except what you really do is fence normal human activity out!

    How could you possible compare something as large as the Greater Yellowstone to a zoo just because some of it was fenced?

    It will come down to fencing or killing. You can’t have gizzlies roaming the alleys of Jackson Hole, West Yellowstone, or Livingston. Are you saying we can let grizzlies population soar and let bear roam where ever they want to go?

    I don’t think so.

  73. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Actually there have already been bears in West, Jackson, Gardiner and Livingston and they didn’t feel the need to fence anything

  74. pointswest Avatar

    Wait until their populations are high after a few good years and then whitebark pine nut crop fails some year and their all starving to death.

    We may both be dreaming but your dream sounds more like a nighmare.

  75. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    pointswest, my dream is not a nitemare, I would actually not mind Yellowstone being closed for a few years so we can change the things that need to be changed, but I know that is not realistic, after working as a biologist for Montana FWP, I actually had my eyes really opened to quite a few things.

    But I do have to say, after the last couple of days corresponding with you, I can’t really figure out which side of the issues you are on? Based on what I learned when I worked for FWP and with other agencies, I can honestly say, the possibility of enlarging the park, is a pipe dream, that is not to say, there won’t be more protected areas around the park, which I agree with, but I can’t see them actually designated as park land, more like refuges and wilderness.

    I do hope our goals are the same, but I can say our opinions and methods do indeed differ…

  76. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    I will also add, your idea of fencing sounds like the same agenda, many ranchers have promoted over the years, to keep the bison contained, which I strongly disagree with..I would like to see a free ranging wild bison in Montana and other areas that have the habitat for them..

  77. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Pointswest, I think fencing is a bad idea. That is a problem that South Africa’s national parks have had with elephant populations getting too large. As far as wilderness areas, Colorado could support grizzlies (and wolves) in the San Juans. Grizzlies are still reported there. I am not sure what California is like. Maybe Northern California? I am not too familiar with that state. Those two states don’t have as large of wilderness areas as Montana, Wyoming, or Idaho but could support some, and probably Arizona and New Mexico could as well. Again, more wishful thinking?

  78. Debra K Avatar
    Debra K

    Anybody who proposes more fencing in the west is very naive, and has not seen photos of pronghorn, raptors, etc. impaled on it. There are thousands of miles of decrepit fencing in the west on public lands that need to be removed, and we do not need more of it.

  79. pointswest Avatar

    This is not fair…you’re all ganging up on me!

    There are many kinds of fences. Not every boundary would need to be fenced since the idea would be to expand the Park to natural boundaries where the large animals typically do not travel. It would not be additional fencing since fences inside of the enclosed areas would be removed. In totality, it would be less fencing.

    If not some kind of fencing, I would like to know what the answer is. Teton Valley is a good example. It is growing and in 20 years will resemble a typical suburb. So the wolves and grizzlies will just roam around Teton Valley and the people there will learn to live with them? That will last until the toddler comes up missing.

  80. pointswest Avatar

    “Colorado could support grizzlies (and wolves) in the San Juans. Grizzlies are still reported there.”

    The large Weminuche wilderness is in the San Juans. It is good grizzly habitat but the few reports of grizzlies does not mean they are there. I think biologists have concluded that the San Juan grizzly is extinct.

    There are reports of Bigfoot in Yellowstone but I do not believe that Bigfoot lives in Yellowstone. Bigfoots only like the Northwest because they all Seahawk fans.

  81. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Pointswest, I can see fencing off a place like that. However, let’s not buy into that belief that toddlers are going to be killed by grizzlies and wolves. 😉

  82. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Pointswest, I can see fencing off a place like that. However, let’s not buy into that belief that toddlers are going to be killed by grizzlies and wolves. 😉

  83. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Whoops, posted in the wrong section. I guess I shouldn’t have two tabs open.

    I would imagine that the San Juan grizzly is extinct by now. With the last known one dead in 1979, and no confirmed sightings since then it seems logical. Still, this sow was killed 27 years after the supposed last grizzly. There was evidence she had cubs so they may have persisted longer.

  84. pointswest Avatar

    “I would like to see a free ranging wild bison in Montana and other areas that have the habitat for them.”

    Ted Turner is a big land owner in Montana and he wants ranchers to ranch bison instead of beef. I think this has real posibilities. So many of the ranches in Montana are being bought up by rich men who just want to own the land as a trophey. There is a movement called Buffalo Commons ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_Commons ) that makes a lot of sense. Much of the land in the West is more valuable for its wildlife and beauty than for ranching anyway. Many ranches do not make money. I think a baffalo commons should be considered for Teton Valley and ajoining lands in Fremont County, Idaho too.

  85. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    I think a buffalo commons would be better in eastern Montana with its tiny population. I think other native prairie wildlife including predators should be restored if there is space.

  86. pointswest Avatar

    “However, let’s not buy into that belief that toddlers are going to be killed by grizzlies and wolves”

    Of course they will. Wolves in Europe used to kill kids all the time. Where to you think all the big bad wolf fairytales come from? Some villagers in the Ukrain decided to frame the wolves? Grizzlies will kill kids too. I understand humans are not natural prey and all that, but there are always extraordinary circumstances. That Timothy Treadwell lived among grizzlies for 13 years in Alaska but was eventually killed and eaten. He understood the bears. He knew all the tricks. He did not show aggression or fear but one bad year came when the grizzlies were hungry and they killed and ate him…after 13 years and he was an adult with nerves of steal.

    Kids will run in fear and trigger their predatory instincts, even if the bear is not hungry.

  87. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Pointswest, I know it can happen, but people blow it out of proportion. That was all I was trying to say.

  88. gline Avatar

    Pointswest : I don’t think “we”/I am “ganging up on you” I appreciate your open thoughts…. I think your intent seems genuine and for the animals’ freedom, coexistence. Don’t stop writing.

  89. gline Avatar

    However, Timothy Treadwell is a totally different story then a hiker or a toddler in a national park toddling along… Timothy was a bit “off”. But, in my opinion, he did a lot of good (education in the school system etc.). In the end he pushed it too far. He seemingly felt he was a griz equal… which would never be the case. The other man in AK that has the “bear farm” doing the same type of thing.. I don’t think that is healthy for the bears in the end.

  90. gline Avatar

    *other man being Charlie Vanderbilt

  91. pointswest Avatar

    “Pointswest, I know it can happen, but people blow it out of proportion. That was all I was trying to say.”

    It won’t be me who blows it out of proportion. I am saying it will, at some point, almost certainly happen and then it will be blown out of proportion.

  92. Scott Miller Avatar
    Scott Miller

    Whitebark pine’s primary nemesis is blister rust. It was introduced in the early 1900’s and took off in the 50’s. It has been decimating whitebark pine stands at an increasing rate since then. The bears have suffered for it. Back in the 70’s thousands of students were hired to grid out and walk through the woods in MT, where I’m from, in a search and destroy mission for Ribes Cereum (Squaw Current). It is the winter time host for the blister rust and the hope was to eliminate the winter host and save the pine. It obviously did not work. Maybe global warming contributes some, but the article took a small step for science and a big leap for someone’s agenda. The bigger problem is the forests are unnaturally dense with dead and dying trees due to unnatural stocking rates. To allow nature to take it’s course, more burning would be ideal (As nature did it). The next best thing we could do is thinning by mechanical means (you know the “L” word) but neither is happening now because of peoples misconstrued idea of what “natural” is. Either way plant succession has to be re-established to emulate a more natural condition.

    ProWolf in WY Says:
    September 25, 2009 at 9:02 PM
    Pointswest, I know it can happen (kids being killed), but people blow it out of proportion. That was all I was trying to say.

    You obviously don’t have kids. Shame on you. How can you even say that? That statement came from a fascist. One is too many and plenty proportional. I remember a five year old killed by a Griz outside of Missoula. Hmmm, maybe the kid was just sick and weak? As wolves become more habituated to people, they will become more bold. As that happens, people will experience more conflict. Happened with the Griz. In 88, I was a Wilderness Ranger in the Bob. When you saw a Griz, you saw it’s hind end. In 88 hunting ceased to protect the bear. By 1990 we had them walking right into our tents and taking food off the table (by the way bear mace is just seasoning to a bear eating off of your plate). In two years they realized people were not to be feared. The biologists were dismayed at the rate they habituated to people. They did not expect what happened.

    Answer me this because it is happening, no doubt, and it is going to become a dilemma. What happens when you have wolves killing bear cubs and Griz raiding wolf dens. Which species deserves more protection?

  93. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    It won’t be me who blows it out of proportion. I am saying it will, at some point, almost certainly happen and then it will be blown out of proportion.

    It can, but people should be informed of the likelihood which is small.

  94. pointswest Avatar

    “The biologists were dismayed at the rate they habituated to people. They did not expect what happened.”

    I used to be quite the hunter back in the day when I lived in Idaho. I hunted deer and elk quite a bit in Island Park and also around Fall River Ridge and Bitch Creek closer to Teton Park. It was always obvious to me that there was a big difference to bears in the Park and bears outside of the Park. Bears outside the Park, black or grizzly, you were never lucky enough to see. You might see their trail in fresh snow and see where they heard or smelled you and then bolted and ran. They are not like that inside of the Park.

    I have not written about it much, but I think it would be a good idea to allow some minimal hunting, even inside of the Park, of grizzlies and wolves. I hunted a lot in my younger years and I believe all mammals all have a very good understanding of another mammal’s intent to kill them. They only need to see that intent once and they will never trust a human again and the mistrust will be picked by the cubs. There are some basic instincts we still share with bears and wolves. Man has hunted animals in Yellowstone for the past 20,000 years. It is unnatural to not hunt them. It could be minimal hunting rather than maximal hunting but some hunting should occur so bears and wolves know that man might kill them. In the end, it would be good for them because they would be more tolerable by more people in more areas and more habitat might be preserved for them.

  95. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    The purpose of a National Park is protection. so hunting should not be allowed. I am all for it outside of the park, and have hunted near the boundary of it, but inside, absolutely not.

  96. pointswest Avatar

    I think compromise is we need to enlarge the Park. I think we need a big Park but with more flexibility of human activity inside.

    We have allowed fishing in the Park…hunting was allowed at one time. I am only suggesting some hunting of the big and dagerous preditors and it would have tough restrictions and be well away from roads, etc.

    If the Park were enlarged, how about some well managed hunting in the new areas where hunting exists now?

  97. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    I would think that using the refuge system or wilderness areas would be far more productive and easier, as both of those systems currently allow hunting. IMHO, that would be a better way to address this situation where feasible…in addition it would be quicker to implement..if you enlarge the park, it is going to create another set of problems, people want access to the National parks, which means infrastructure upgrades, quite possibly new roads and buildings, with the refuge system or wilderness areas, there would really not be as much pressure to make access improvements for the general public..

  98. SR25Stoner Avatar

    Remove all the roads and buildings, campgrounds, bridges, and anything else man made in Yellowstone and then we can stop calling it a parking lot and rename it a real Wilderness. Replant habitat where the roads are, make trails for foot traffic or horse traffic only, classic skiing, snowshoeing. Each entrance can be a trail head. Open it up to hunting after five-seven years of less human intrusions, as well extend the boundaries out wards. Make it real.

  99. pointswest Avatar

    “I would think that using the refuge system or wilderness areas would be far more productive and easier, as both of those systems currently allow hunting.”

    I am not proposing hunting for the benefit of hunters; I am proposing hunting for the benefit of all people in and around the Park. The idea is to keep wolves/grizzlies from being so comfortable around humans and making them more tolerable. You could think of it as a choke chain on your pet pit-bull.

    “Replant habitat where the roads are, make trails for foot traffic or horse traffic only, classic skiing, snowshoeing.”

    It sounds nice, I know. It would not need to be done overnight. Most roads are logging roads. They could be ripped with a D8 to loosen the roadbed and will fill in with trees. A few could remain as trails.

    ” Each entrance can be a trail head. Open it up to hunting after five-seven years of less human intrusions, as well extend the boundaries out wards. Make it real.”

    In the beginning, most roads, towns, building, business stay exactly the way they are. Many of the main roads would stay for the foreseeable future. Some roads may be replaced by more scenic roads over the next hundred or two hundred years.

    In time, anything can be done. The important thing for this generation is to get it preserved.

    That is a very real possibility.

  100. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Save bears, I think your idea makes the most sense. Stoner, I like the idea about having it less of a parking lot but we need some areas where hunting is not allowed.

  101. pointswest Avatar

    …and where we have all the competing interests between branches of the Fed, the states and their various branches, and private interests, it can all be intelligently and conveniently managed by non-stop litigation as it is now.

  102. pointswest Avatar

    There is at least one new grizzly in California, our governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, bought it this spring.


    It is kind of interesting that the grizzlies died out in the San Juans. They are a vast moutain range. I been in them several times. It seems like some would have survived deep in the roadless areas. I guess they wiped them out in central Idaho which is an even larger roadless area.

    They are a fragile species.

  103. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    They are a very fragile species. The only viable populations in the lower 48 are probably just the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.

  104. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    The Jackson Forest Service and outfitters have forever been fearful of the upper Yellowstone and Thorofare being switched to the Park Service.

    It is the most likely area to annex if the Park were to be enlarged. The present wolf debacle and the need to protect griz (as it generates attention and thus much higher land values) is probably the one leverage that the Forest Service and outfitters will acknowledge ….. for need to change their behavior.

    Washington needs to give the “exploiters” around Yellowstone a choice. The “hunters” can quit killing bears and wolves or “we” will put it into a situation where they can be protected.

    When I opened the can of worms with the illegal salting and subsequent deaths and habituation of griz in the Bridger Teton Wilderness, the FS immediately “saw” the chance of these lands being stripped from them …. as the only reason to cover their asses.

    There has always been this fear of Yellowstone annexing the upper Yellowstone. If the fear is there then the chances of doing so must be higher than environmentalists ever thought possible.

    It is a lead I think needs to be followed up on. Even if this annexation fails the changes it causes by those agencies and outfitters to quell griz – wolf mortality issues should bring fruit.

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Brian Ertz