(Casper, Wyo.) - Today the Wyoming Game and Fish Department Commission came together to consider the Greater Yellowstone Region grizzly bear management plan, which some would say is "long over due." WGFD Commissioner David Rael was not able to attend the meeting but stated in a letter, "This plan is long over due and the Yellowstone Grizzlies have flourished. It is time for Wyoming to be in control completely of our grizzly bears." He then went on to vote in favor of the management plan, along with the four other board members. Wyoming Game and Fish Department Communications Director Renny McKay commented before the presentation: "Most importantly today is to show that we have a management plan in place when and if the US Fish and Wildlife Service decides to delist the grizzlies from the endangered species list. This plan will serve as a guide for our staff to manage and monitor the population." McKay also explained that since the USFWS began considering delisting the grizzlies, the WGFD began work on a management plan. They hosted eight public meetings around the state to gather public comments on the issue, worked to create the management plan and today they presented it to the commission for hopeful approval. At the Ramkota, the commission listened to the Chief of the Wildlife Division, Brian Nesvik, explain the management plan. Grizzly bears were listed as threatened and placed on the endangered species list in 1975 and the state of Wyoming has worked since, working to have a plan in place to have them de-listed. Nesvik explained that there are three major components which the plan addresses: [image: unnamed.png] 1. A minimum population of 500 grizzly bears in the Greater Ecosystem must be maintained. 2. Sixteen of eighteen grizzly bears in a management area must be sow grizzlies. 3. The WGFD must maintain the morality limit and must be managed within the ranges below: [image: unnamed-1.png] Nesvik said the G&F will only have management of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Region, bears outside of the region, will continue to be monitored as 'threatened.' "We as a state have met this criteria since 1999," said Nesvik. "We have been managing and doing this for decades." He then went on to address hunting concerns. "Hunting is a component of our plan but a decision on whether or not to allow hunting for grizzly bears in Wyoming, that will come at another meeting," he said. "We need this plan as an overlapping plan before we even consider grizzly hunts. The bear hunting regulations are laid out, and we'll continue to develop them with a public process. "We will continue to monitor and study the species. Evaluating and developing more precise measurements and techniques. We will look at grizzly interactions with ungulates and monitor trends; it will be a continuous evaluation over time. Our role is to provide these insights to many other agencies in our state." Human/bear conflicts and law enforcement were also addressed in the new management plan. Nesvik brought the presentation to a close, mentioning that if this plan is approved, it would be considered with the Idaho and Montana management plans who are working through the same process. "To me, this demonstrates that all three of the states are invested in managing the Greater Yellowstone grizzly bear population. Wyoming itself has spent $40 million on recovery and study efforts from 1980-2015." He also shared with the board that the WGFD had collected 449 unique comments from Wyoming residents as well as out of state comments. Nesvik shared a few of the primary issues that were raised at these discussions: - Hunting - Monitoring Areas - Ecotourism - Conflict Resolution - Funding Of the 449 comments, there were 300 who were opposed to the delisting of the grizzlies and 149 for the delisting. Conversely, in an unscientific survey of Wyoming readers, a Pitchengine survey found nearly 75% of respondents were for delisting. [image: 2016-05-11.png] "The citizens of Wyoming have been a huge part of this process, and I feel that it serves our state greatly. It ensures a long term plan for the grizzly bears, and the grizzly bear recovery has become a remarkable conservation success story," concluded Nesvik. It was then left to the board of commissioners to consider the plan. With a unanimous vote in favor, the plan passed and it will later be presented to the USFWS should they elect to de-list the grizzly bear from the endangered species list. Click to see the full management plan
or contact the WGFD for more information.
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