Are grizzlies safe?

  • Grizzly bear drawing

    Erika Zavaleta
  Grizzly bears in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem have "recovered" and no longer need protection under the Endangered Species Act. That's the opinion of a federal team known as the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, which decided in December to support the Wyoming Game and Fish Department's decision to petition for delisting the bear. "People should keep in mind that one of the purposes of the Endangered Species Act is to recover and delist species or distinct populations once the recovery goals are met," says Ralph Morgenweck, chairman of the interagency group. Several environmental groups fear the committee's decision is premature. Sierra Club spokesman Larry Mehlhaff says the current recovery plan for the area's 270 bears is currently being challenged in federal court "because it sets scientifically unsound population goals and fails to protect habitat." Delisting would allow further encroachment into the grizzly's territory, he says, and lead to increasing conflicts between humans and bears. The petition for delisting the bears may be sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as early as this spring. For more information, contact the USFWS, Ecological Services, P.O. Box 25486, Denver, CO 80225 (303/236-7904).