Last week, the committee in charge of overseeing grizzly bear recovery in the Lower 48 unanimously recommended that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service move forward with a proposal to remove Endangered Species Act protections from grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Area. Their decision was based on new information presented by federal biologists that suggests that the Yellowstone grizzly population is doing fine and is unaffected by the loss of one of the bears’ most important food sources: whitebark pine seeds.
The problem is that a number of these studies have not yet been peer-reviewed by other scientists, nor are they yet available to the public for review. Even more importantly, the data that informed these analyses are not available for independent analysis by outside scientists. Given that there have been a number of serious concerns raised in the last year by the scientific community about the data and analyses being done by the interagency study team, we feel it is essential to have greater access to this data so that the conclusions, which carry such important policy consequences, can be independently verified.
That’s why NRDC, along with some of our partner groups, sent a letter today to Dan Ashe, the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, asking for access to the data that is informing the decision to strip Yellowstone grizzly bears of their Endangered Species Act protections. These are data that have been collected almost exclusively by federal employees and paid for by U.S. taxpayer dollars.
In the interest of science, transparency, and sound decision-making, these data should be made publicly available immediately.
(Photo: Kim Keating, USGS)