Wyoming could soon be managing grizzlies again

The push to remove endangered species protections from Wyoming’s grizzly bears has cleared another hurdle. With any luck, we’ll be able to regulate them as a state within the coming year.

Before this area was Wyoming, grizzly bears were plentiful in our mountains. When European settlers came in, they nearly exterminated this ultimate apex predator. But over the last roughly 50 years, we’ve brought them back from the brink of extinction and now have a vibrant grizzly population again.

In fact, we have too many. There are far more bears in Wyoming than the suitable habitat can support. The Game and Fish estimates there are more than 1,000 bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

The state petitioned the federal government in January to delist the bears again. They were delisted once before, and Wyoming proved it could manage the bears well. But then a federal judge slammed the door on our state management, and put the bears back on the endangered list again.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has reviewed our petition, and they have found that the bear population may indeed warrant delisting. That agency will now conduct a 12-month status review of the bears, and if they again find that removing the bears from the endangered species list is appropriate, they’ll turn management back over to the state again.

That doesn’t mean you should stand in line at the sporting goods store for a bear license, though. It may be a while before we are able to hunt them, though it would give the state much more leeway to regulate their numbers. It’s about time. Keeping grizzlies in Wyoming on the endangered species list only hurts them. They get bold and aggressive, they kill each other over habitat, and they starve to death from lack of food. It’s time to get the bears off the list and manage them the way they should be managed – by the people who live with them here in Wyoming.