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Public Comment Period on Wyoming's Grizzly Plans Close Friday

Friday is the last day for public comments on Wyoming's plans to manage Yellowstone grizzly populations. (USFWS)
Friday is the last day for public comments on Wyoming's plans to manage Yellowstone grizzly populations. (USFWS)
October 5, 2016

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Friday is the last day for public comments on Wyoming's plans to manage Yellowstone grizzly populations if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service takes the bear off the Endangered Species List.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission plans outline how a hunting season for the bears would be managed, and propose an agreement with Idaho and Montana that would allow populations to drop from an estimated 700 to 600.

Bonnie Rice, a senior representative with the Sierra Club, opposes de-listing and says it's important for the public to chime in.

"Whether or not the public thinks that the state regulations that would be put in place are adequate to protect the Yellowstone grizzly bear population if Endangered Species Act protections are removed," she states.

The state's plans also call for greater discretion to kill bears if they cause conflicts with people and livestock, a move Rice says could reverse more than 40 years of work to bring bear numbers back from the brink of extinction.

She adds while the state says it will monitor genetic health, a diversified gene pool critical to long term survival can only be assured by allowing Yellowstone bears to connect with other populations.

Comments can be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov.

Rice says she disagrees with state agency assertions that the Yellowstone ecosystem can't hold any more bears, and notes other adjacent public lands could be opened up.

She adds the plan as presented doesn't provide a full picture of how the bears will be managed.

"We haven't seen all the pieces at one time,” she points out. “And so it's very difficult if not impossible for the public to submit meaningful comments because the Fish and Wildlife Service is putting out these plans piecemeal."

This past weekend native tribes from Canada and the U.S. signed a treaty outlining alternative proposals for protecting the bear.

The document will be delivered to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Barack Obama.

The Yellowstone grizzly could be de-listed by the end of the year.



Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY