MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation filed a joint summary judgement brief supporting a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to remove federal protections from the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly bear population.
“We stand alongside the Sportsmen’s Alliance and our fellow conservation organizations in supporting federal scientists and wildlife biologists who declared the grizzly population fully recovered,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “The next step is keeping grizzly management under the umbrella of state agencies that manage all wildlife in accordance with the North American Wildlife Conservation Model, which uses hunting as a management tool.”
“Despite the emotional rhetoric of the animal rights crowd, the time has come to return this population of bears to state management,” said Evan Heusinkveld, Sportsmen’s Alliance president and CEO. “The truth is, this is a historic moment for the species and the Endangered Species Act as a whole. Returning the Yellowstone area population of bears to state management should be a monumental achievement widely celebrated as a conservation success story.”
Numbering more than 700, the Yellowstone grizzly population meets all delisting criteria. These factors include not only the number and distribution of bears throughout the ecosystem, but also the quantity and quality of the habitat available and the states’ commitments to manage the population in a manner that maintains its healthy and secure status.
RMEF and its partners helped permanently protect more than 169,000 acres of vital wildlife habitat valued at more than $131 million in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Additionally, RMEF also directly contributed more than $3.1 million and leveraged an additional $17.5 million to help enhance wildlife habitat on more than 426,000 acres in the GYE. RMEF also contributed more than $1 million in funding and leveraged an additional $10 million from conservation partners to carry out 118 GYE wildlife management and wildlife research projects.
“These projects are crucial and helped to contribute to the understanding of wildlife populations, ecology and habitat needs, including increasing the understanding of grizzly bears and conserving the habitat needed for them to thrive in conjunction with all wildlife populations,” said Weaver. “Habitat needs to remain the focus of on-the-ground conservation work, not seemingly non-stop litigation.”
The federal judge laid out a schedule that includes several more filing deadlines as well as a hearing in late August. He has stated he will make a ruling before the hunting season begins in September.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 227,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 7.3 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at rmef.org, elknetwork.com or 800-CALL ELK.