Farm Bureau speaks out against Fish & Wildlife Service grizzly decision |

Farm Bureau speaks out against Fish & Wildlife Service grizzly decision

Yesterday’s announcement by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recommending that grizzly bear remain threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is being met with dismay from Montana Farm Bureau and other agricultural groups. Although their report claimed that recovery is robust, the FWS is still maintaining that the predator needs protection.

Valier rancher and Front Range County Farm Bureau member Trina Jo Bradley expressed dismay at the news. Bradley ranches in areas frequented by grizzly bears and is familiar with problems dealing with the bruins. She has served on numerous boards regarding grizzly recovery and worked tirelessly on the FWS recommendations to try to mitigate grizzly/livestock/human encounters.

“Throughout the assessment, scientists commented on how well the grizzlies have recovered, and how the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) population has more than tripled since 1975. The entire report praises and celebrates the recovery of GYE and Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem grizzlies,” said Bradley.

“However, after praising the work that has been done, the agency then concluded that they are still keeping them on the list. That is a straight punch in the face to every producer who has ever lost livestock to grizzlies, to every parent that can’t let their kids adventure outside for fear they’ll have a run-in with a grizzly, and to every scientist who has worked to recover the population of grizzly bears in the lower 48,” Bradley noted. “It’s like the last 40 years of work didn’t even matter.”

“The ESA cannot continue to be used as an excuse not to manage grizzly bears,” the rancher noted. “Bears must be managed correctly just like every other wildlife species, and right now, the federal government is hiding behind the ESA status and not doing its job.”

Since the recovery of the bears over the last 46 years, increased conflicts with ranchers, farmers, small town residents and tourists have increased.

Montana Farm Bureau has long pointed out that no matter what recovery efforts are made and numbers achieved, the FWS as well as some environmental groups continually move the goalposts, which is why the ESA sports such a low success rate.

“As an organization of farmers and ranchers, our members in areas on the Rocky Mountain Front and even now out into farm country, have had to deal with grizzlies killing their livestock and trashing their grain bins, while the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. turn a blind eye,” said MFBF Executive Vice President John Youngberg. “It’s easy when you’re sitting at your desk in an urban center to want to keep these animals on the ESA; it’s entirely different when you’re face-to-face with these predators. We certainly hope common sense prevails. Grizzly bears have exceeded the target numbers, so it’s time to remove them from the Endangered Species list and let the states manage them as necessary. We want to thank Montana Representative Matt Rosdendale who is a cosponsor of H.R. 1403 which would delist grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone ecological system.”

Sam Kieffer, vice president of public affairs, American Farm Bureau, noted, “We are disappointed in the recent decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to keep grizzly bears on the Endangered Species List after the agency’s five-year status review. Data shows that grizzly bears in the lower 48 states have more than recovered, and the growing population makes it difficult for farmers and ranchers to care for and protect livestock. With the population of grizzlies thriving, it would be more appropriate to remove them from the Federal Endangered Species list and turn management over to the states, which can more effectively oversee the species.

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