Do we really need to truck more grizzly bears into Yellowstone?

Well, fresh grizzlies are expected to arrive in Greater Yellowstone soon.

The plan is to add genetic diversity to a population of animals that’s been isolated for a century.

Interbreeding is bad.

The current Yellowstone population of these bears is estimated at nearly 1,000.

Montana and Wyoming are translocating bears as part of a joint effort to convince the federal government that they’re responsible stewards of a large carnivore species, which the states contend no longer requires Endangered Species Act protections. (WyoFile).

“We’re trying to demonstrate to everybody, the courts included, that connectivity isn’t an issue that should impede delisting,” said Ken McDonald, wildlife division chief for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “Until it’s happening regularly, naturally, we can cover this with human-assisted movements.”

These bear populations don't actually live far from each other. But there is no recorded case of the two groups meeting.

The populations have been separated by impassable mountains, even to them.

The grizzly-moving operation in the absence of a natural dispersal is also a commitment included in the tri-state memorandum of agreement that Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho struck to guide the management of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s grizzly bears. (WyoFile).

But trucking animals into the Yellowstone region won’t appease those opposed to the states having control over (and potentially hunting) grizzly bears.

“My perspective would be that it undermines their claim of recovery, if they have to translocate bears,” said Matthew Bishop, a senior attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center who argued the last delisting litigation for WildEarth Guardians. “The goal should really be to get bears back in the Bitterroot [recovery area], and get some connectivity between subpopulations. Then maybe start thinking about delisting and recovery, but I don’t think we’re there yet.”

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Gallery Credit: Glenn Woods

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Gallery Credit: Glenn Woods