Goodall leads coalition calling for Yellowstones grizzlies to stay on endangered species list, as Montana hunters set to be offered $50 licenses to shoot them
A coalition of scientists headed by renowned conservationist Jane Goodall has implored the federal government to re-think its decision to strip protection from Yellowstones grizzly bears, as hunters in Montana are set to be offered $50 licenses to shoot the hulking predators.
A total of 58 experts have put their name to a letter urging the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to keep the grizzly bears on the Endangered Species Act, which has protected them from hunters and other interference since 1975.
The letter states that the bears continue to be imperiled by resource declines, including habitat and dietary staple losses due to climate change, invasive species and drought. The experts also dispute USFWS figures that show there are around 700 grizzlies in the 22,500 sq mile Yellowstone national park region.
The best available science and the precautionary principle demands continued federal monitoring of this vulnerable population, the letter reads. Now is the time to redouble grizzly bear conservation efforts, not decrease them.
Goodall, who garnered fame through her work with primates, said: Forty years ago when the grizzlies of the Yellowstone ecosystem numbered less than 150 individuals, and their survival seemed precarious, it was thanks to protection under the Endangered Species Act that their number today has risen slowly. But their future isnt secure yet, because they face so many threats to their survival.
Wildlife officials in Wyoming and Montana have already drawn up plans to allow hunting of grizzly bears once the delisting, announced in March, goes ahead. Bears that wander outside would be shot by authorized hunters.
Montanas plan, revealed this week, will offer $50 permits to local residents, with hunting seasons running between November and December and then March to April. Out-of-state hunters will have to pay $1,000 for a permit.
The USFWS has said the delisting is justified due to the historic success of conservation efforts that have boosted numbers in Yellowstone. Officials in the three states that surround Yellowstone Wyoming, Idaho and Montana have insisted the re-opening of hunting after 40 years wont harm the grizzly population.
A spokeswoman for USFWS said three decades of study has gone into the decision to remove the grizzly bear from federal protection.
We believe the wealth of science proves the Yellowstone grizzly bear population is recovered, and the threats they face no longer impact the robust, thriving, self-sustaining population distributed throughout the ecosystem today, she said.