Southern California resident Leigh Clark sees the grizzly bear on the state’s flag as a poignant reminder for wildlife managers around Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.
“Californians wastefully, foolishly and irrevocably exterminated the last wild grizzly sometime in the middle of the third decade of the preceding century,” Clark advised the Fish and Wildlife Service on Oct. 3 “This kind of tragic shortsightedness cannot be allowed to pass for responsible conservation practice.”
Clark, who lives in the bear-free community of Granada Hills, has joined a large, heartfelt and politically charged debate over a federal proposal to remove the “Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem” population of grizzly bears from Endangered Species Act protection.
It is possible that the grizzly may need endangered species protection for decades or centuries to come. It's is a small price to pay for such an amazing species.
Gregg Nevills, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
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With a comment period ending Oct. 7, more than 107,000 public statements had already flooded the federal agency as of 10 a.m. Thursday morning.
“We live in California, where our grizzlies are extinct,” San Francisco resident Vincent Hoenigman wrote on Sept. 30. “I hope that you act to ensure that the same does not happen to the Yellowstone Grizzlies.”
In its proposal published earlier this year, the Fish and Wildlife Service declared that the Yellowstone-area grizzly bear population has “increased in size and more than tripled its occupied range since being listed as threatened under the (Endangered Species) Act in 1975 and that threats to the population are sufficiently minimized.”
Mike Keckler, spokesman for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game in Boise, said at the time of the proposal that the delisting is “long overdue,” adding that “we have a very healthy population, and it is time for the bear population to be turned over to the states – Idaho, Wyoming and Montana – for management.”
The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem includes portions of five national forests; Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park and state, tribal, and private lands.
As part of the proposal to delist the Yellowstone-area grizzly population, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission and similar agencies in Montana and Wyoming were required to craft rules for bear management and the “regulation of human-caused mortality.”
Once the public comment period concludes, the Fish and Wildlife Service will have to decide whether to stick with its proposal, modify it or retreat altogether.