The proposed removal of the recovered Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem population of grizzly bears from the protections of the Endangered Species Act has caused an uproar among animal-rights activists and organizations. It has even caused a stir with some sportsmen whose personal opinion differs from teams of biologists from multiple states and federal agencies.
When it comes to contentious issues, open discussion from multiple viewpoints stimulates conversation and reveals facts. Addressing contentious issues can be tricky, especially when facts are not understood or are misrepresented by those with an agenda.
Those who argue against delisting give impassioned opinions on why the apex predators should remain protected. However, they don’t acknowledge the facts: the original intent of the listing, the criteria met for delisting, and the facts surrounding delisting and future management. While some would prefer that grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem stay listed as a matter of policy, now that recovery is complete with no danger of extinction, delisting is a mandatory legal requirement, not a discretionary policy choice.
The discussions around endangered species, hunting and wildlife management signals a critical moment in our conservation history. Is the Endangered Species Act a tool of conservation? Or is it a preservationist’s ploy to remove man from the habitat, management and natural landscape entirely? Does conservation mean anything, or have we as a nation shifted to a mindset where fears and fundraising trump science and commonsense?
For the grizzly, for the wolf and for every animal linked to them in the ecosystem, including mankind, the need is sound scientific wildlife management based in fact and not ideological opinion.