The US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) said on January 12, 2017 that it could take the agency another six months to finish reviewing 650,000 public comments submitted on the decision to remove the Yellowstone grizzly bear from the ESA list. Many of those 650,000 comments contain arguments, scientific and otherwise, about why the Yellowstone grizzly bear should not be delisted, especially because of the threat of climate change and an ill-advised trophy grizzly hunt. To review is to take another look, to evaluate. Does this mean the FWS would re-open its mind to those thousands of comments who argue the best available science says don’t delist the grizzly?
I can only wish this to be the case. The Endangered Species Act’s "best available science" mandate remains Yellowstone’s grizzlies’ best friend Whereas the past years’ Save the Yellowstone Grizzly campaign appealed to the White House, a fresh effort should be aimed directly at the FWS where some biologist are hopefully still weighing the best available science.
Our June 3, 2016 letter to President Obama included this statement:
"Unfortunately, the March 3, 2016, delisting announcement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) came paired with an astonishing declaration in the Federal Register: 'Therefore, we conclude that the effects of climate change do not constitute a threat to the [Yellowstone grizzly bear population] now, nor are they anticipated to in the future.’"
That letter was signed by E. O. Wilson, George Schaller, Jane Goodall and Michael Soule—among the world’s most respected scientists.
I believe that now we should ask many, many other scientists, peers of those FWS agency biologists, to speak out on behalf of the best available science for Yellowstone’s grizzlies. This dialogue will take place in a public forum, as there is no official comment period remaining. Those who love wild nature as well as our grandchildren must fight to recognize and respond to the beast of out time—climate change, which is indeed probably also the key argument for not delisting the grizzly.
Call it peer pressure, but let’s give it a shot; we have nothing to lose unless it’s everything.
For the wild,