Too Soon to Declare Victory for Yellowstone Grizzly Bears

The future of this iconic symbol of America’s Wild West is still at risk

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed Endangered Species Act protections for the Yellowstone population of grizzly bears today, according to multiple news reports, creating new risks for the still-threatened bears.  

Following is a statement from Sylvia Fallon, senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“The Endangered Species Act protections kept Yellowstone’s grizzlies from extinction, but this iconic symbol of America’s Wild West is still at risk.  Climate change, isolation, and increasingly fragmented habitat continue to threaten the long-term survival of Yellowstone’s grizzly bears. In fact, the only certainty about grizzlies at this point is that the bears face a future of uncertainty.

“Climate change is altering the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem right here, right now. Whitebark pine seeds are a critically important food source for the bears that keeps the animals at higher elevations and out of conflict with people. But biologists have predicted these trees could be functionally extinct in just a few years—we shouldn’t resign grizzlies to a similar fate.”

“The Yellowstone grizzly bear will not survive until a plan with adequate protections is in place to protect bears from real world threats. Until policies move beyond a myopic numbers game of counting bears at a fixed point in time and shift the focus to putting protections in place so bears can thrive over the long term, the future for the Yellowstone grizzly bear is grim.” 

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.organd follow us on Twitter @NRDC.



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