The Wyoming Game and Fish Department says it'll take most of a year to complete the process of delisting grizzly bears from the Endangered Species List.
Chief Game Warden Brian Nesvik says not only will the feds require a 60 day comment period but the state will need to complete a management plan and collect its own public input. He says a hunting season would be part of that plan.
“I would characterize any kind of a hunting season as being similar to what we've done with other species: black bears, mountain lions, and wolves, when we had that authority. [We'd take] a conservative approach, science-based approach with significant public input.”
He says wildlife is best managed on a local level by people living close to the species. Nesvik says the job of the Endangered Species Act isn't to list species indefinitely and the feds were doing their job by proposing delisting. But environmentalists say the bear population isn't stable yet because its two main food sources—white bark pine nuts and cutthroat trout—are both imperiled themselves.
Nesvik says such groups underestimate the resilience of grizzlies.
“Grizzly bears, they call them opportunistic omnivores, meaning that they basically are very good at taking advantage of whatever food sources are available,” he says. “I think they identified, I'm not going to say a number, it was over 20 different food sources that grizzly bears use in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife announced the proposed delisting of the Yellowstone grizzly bear last week. They were first taken off the list in 2007 before courts re-listed them two years later.