Gordon speaks out on grizzly bear and wolf management in Wyoming

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September 16, 2021 — Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon released statements on grizzly bear and wolf management today. Earlier in the day, Gordon held a media briefing regarding the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and addressed the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision regarding gray wolves in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming earlier this week.

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Wyoming Seeks State Management of Grizzly Bears

Governor Gordon announced today that the State of Wyoming is seeking state management of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). The State is petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the GYE grizzly bear population, following 46 years and more than $52 million in investment from Wyoming. Grizzly bears, by all measures, have been fully recovered since 2003.

“This is a notable day of celebration not only for the grizzly bear but for Wyoming. The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear has met and exceeded all scientific benchmarks for recovery,” Governor Gordon said in a press conference. “We have proved time and time again that we are experts in wildlife conservation for our state’s valued and iconic species. It’s time for grizzly bears to be returned fully to the states for management, as our citizens have supported recovery efforts and seen monumental success.”

Wyoming already has a grizzly bear management plan in place. It will be amended to recognize the necessary legal requirements to satisfy the Endangered Species Act requirements for post-delisting management.

Today, an expanding number of grizzly bears have grown beyond the edges of the bear’s biological and socially suitable range. With refined population estimates, data shows the population numbers more than 1,000 bears, far beyond all scientific requirements for a recovered, viable population. With this data, the state intends to adopt new annual management targets and mortality thresholds to ensure the population remains well above minimum federal thresholds.

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Wyoming also intends to directly address concerns raised by the courts in the 2017 delisting. In addition, the State is amending grizzly bear management policies that will adjust the annual management and mortality targets. Wyoming also intends to use and update plans to recognize the updated population model now adopted by grizzly bear experts. Last, the State is committed to the bear’s long-term genetic health and will provide for translocation of bears into the population, as needed to maintain genetic diversity.

The State of Wyoming is in the process of making these additional legal and policy commitments, and the petition will be filed in the coming weeks. Wyoming is currently amending management agreements between Idaho and Montana. Those agreements, known as the Tri-State MOA, will be reviewed by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission in the coming weeks.

Governor Gordon Remains Confident that Wyoming’s Wolf Management Program is Successful

Gordon also issued a statement in response to an announcement from the US Fish and Wildlife Service that it will initiate a comprehensive status review of the gray wolf in the western U.S. According to the Governor’s Office, Gordon is confident the review will find Wyoming’s wolf management program has been highly successful in meeting the state’s commitment to the long-term viability of wolves in Wyoming. The Governor’s statement follows:

“Wyoming has managed wolves according to our plan, and that plan has been sufficient to satisfy wolf population targets while allowing producers to take appropriate measures to protect livestock. Ours was a hard-fought and careful process that resulted in a unique plan that works. If it’s not broken, we don’t need to fix it. Wyoming will stand by our plan, which is supported with unassailable data. 

We respect all state’s abilities to manage wildlife within their borders. This is just another example of a Federal action which attempts to usurp states’ authorities.”

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