JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) Six national forests in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho will change their management plans to support removing grizzly bears from the endangered species list,
U. S. Forest Service officials say. The agency is amending resource management plans for the Beaverhead-Deerlodge, Bridger-Teton, Caribou-Targhee, Custer, Gallatin and Shoshone national forests, intermountain regional forester Jack Troyer said. The amendments will take effect starting in May. Troyer said the six forests would follow a conservation strategy outlining the habitat standards, guidelines and monitoring that are important for sustaining a recovered grizzly bear population within the primary conservation area of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Forest plans would emphasize storing food properly, monitoring critical food sources, reducing conflicts with livestock grazing, holding numbers and capacity of developed sites at 1998 levels inside the primary conservation area, and maintaining current road and motorized trail miles inside the primary conservation area. Troyer said the decision to change the plans was made with supervisors in each of the six forests. The amendments, he said, will adequately address public concerns over protection of the bear, road standards, development and social and economic issues. “We have been involved in the conservation effort for decades, and now the grizzly bear in the Yellowstone ecosystem not only survives, it thrives,” Troyer said. “We are extremely pleased with the progress that has been made, and we are optimistic that the population will continue to flourish.” The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced last month it was removing grizzly bears from protection under the Endangered Species Act by the end of April. The decision comes after more than 30 years of protection, during which the grizzly bear population increased from between 136 and 312 animals to more than 500 today. The Fish and Wildlife Service started the delisting process for grizzlies in November 2005. The states of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, along with the
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service, will manage grizzly bears in a cooperative effort that officials expect to cost about $3.7 million a year. Conservation groups say grizzly bears remain imperiled in the northern Rockies because of inadequate habitat protection in national forests and the potential decline of their most important food source, whitebark pine nuts. Scientists also have said that the Yellowstone area’s grizzly bear population might not be genetically diverse enough to survive threats such as disease and global climate change.