A recent article in Men’s Journal concerning grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem was brought to the attention of the Sportsmen’s Alliance. After reading the article, we were asked to submit a letter to the editor with our views, and were asked to keep it to between 200-300 words (very condensed for such a long feature); we submitted a 316-word reply. Our letter was cut to 160 words. In the interest of providing our followers a greater understanding than what will appear in print/online with our organization’s name on it, we offer the full response here – which barely begins to scratch the surface of a scientific and legal rebuttal. – Brian Lynn, Sportsmen’s Alliance Vice President of Marketing & Communications
I read “The Grizzly Man’s Last Stand” by Rick Bass with great interest. While it was a fascinating personal profile filled with overpowering and well-crafted prose, it fell short on facts and the realities of biological management of apex predators.
The facts are: this distinct population of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has surpassed every recovery metric put forth under the Endangered Species Act. The population has exceeded the delisting threshold by 40 percent and has remained stable and above recovery goals for nearly a decade while also tripling their occupied range.
Further, to couch grizzly survival upon the whitebark pine does your readers a great disservice. Grizzly diets include more than 250 food sources. If grizzly survival is indeed inextricably linked to the “functionally extinct” whitebark pine, why are bear numbers increasing while the “tree’s numbers are in free fall”?
The truth, as reported by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team in 2013, is that “…whitebark pine decline has had no profound negative effects on grizzly bears at the individual or population level.” That same report states that “grizzly bears obtained sufficient alternative foods through diet shifts…”
If this discussion pertained to any other species besides the grizzly bear, everyone would hail it as a recovery success and proof of the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act.
Unfortunately, Mr. Bass’ use of lofty prose instead of fact undermines not just sound biological wildlife management, but continued grizzly bear recovery.
I suggest Mr. Bass research the management plan in place for the grizzlies, to look at the Distinct Population Segment policy of the Endangered Species Act, and then face the realities of managing apex predators alongside modern society.
The delisting of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear should be celebrated for what it is: one of the greatest wildlife management success stories ever.