Yellowstone's Grizzlies Still Need Protection
NRDC issue briefings and fact sheets explain why removing Yellowstone's grizzlies from the endangered species list puts bears in jeopardy.
Though adequate habitat currently exists to support and increase the Yellowstone grizzly bear population, pressure is mounting for increased extractive development in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Even with Endangered Species Act protections, oil and gas drilling, logging, roadbuilding and other forms of industrial development pose serious threats to bear habitat. Revoking federal protections will exacerbate these threats by loosening restrictions on large-scale industrial and real estate development in the areas outside Yellowstone National Park and the designated "Recovery Zone" surrounding the park.
Experts believe that about one-third (approximately 175) of the Greater Yellowstone grizzlies live in areas beyond the bounds of the Recovery Zone. The 1.7 million acres of bear-occupied territory beyond the Recovery Zone is the most threatened area in the entire Greater Yellowstone ecosystem -- more than 50 percent of the habitat in the area is subject to oil and gas development and timber cutting, and more than 75 percent of the land is available for roadbuilding.
In order to achieve sustained recovery of the Greater Yellowstone grizzlies, we must: (1) protect occupied habitat outside the Recovery Zone so that bears can continue to live there, and recolonize habitat that will be required to maintain and increase the grizzly population; and (2) ensure that Yellowstone's bears are connected to other grizzly populations to the west and north of Yellowstone National Park.Threats from Oil and Gas Development
All the economically recoverable oil in grizzly bear habitat in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem would meet America's energy needs for fewer than three weeks.
- About 2 million acres of suitable grizzly bear habitat in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem are open to oil and gas development. Three-quarters of these lands fall beyond the boundaries of the Recovery Zone.
- More than half (approximately 885,000 acres) of the bear-occupied territory beyond the Recovery Zone is open to full field oil and gas development.
- Only one-third (approximately 4.5 million acres) of national forest lands in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem is protected from oil and gas leasing. The remaining 7 million acres are all available for leasing or are already being developed.
Threats from the Timber Industry
Logging hurts grizzly bears by increasing the human presence in grizzly home ranges, disturbing the natural ecosystems and increasing long-term use of the area through road construction.
- More than half the bear-occupied territory beyond the bounds of the Recovery Zone is open to scheduled logging.
- More than 70 percent of national forest lands in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem are subject to logging, either as part of the annual harvest quota or for "ecological" purposes.
Threats from Roadbuilding
Federal scientists have found that grizzly bear deaths are five times more likely in roaded areas than they are in non-roaded areas.
- More than 75 percent (approximately 1.2 million acres) of bear-occupied territory beyond the Recovery Zone is open to road building. Conversely, only 9 percent (347,000 acres) has been designated by the federal government to remain roadless permanently.
- Almost two-thirds (nearly 7 million acres) of national forest land in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem is open to road construction.
last revised 2/14/2006
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