To: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS)
Re: Proposed delisting of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Population of Grizzly Bears. (Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2016-0042)
I oppose the delisting of Grizzly Bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). Their population has recovered to what appears to be a stable point at which it's able to sustain itself. Many would like to see it expand further, for reasons of population health and viability.
With food supplies limited and natural migration and reproductive imperatives and behaviors what they have always been (and hopefully what they always will be), they need room to roam outside the borders of Yellowstone National Park. And we need to continue to conserve their habitats in that broad range.
Grizzlies and other large predators are essential to their ecosystems. This is how nature was created, and this is how it should be conserved and restored under our stewardship.
Recreational hunting in the GYE is not needed as an additional source of mortality to control their numbers. Furthermore, recreational hunting is not well suited to use as a wildlife-management technique targeted at the attainment of ecosystem-based management objectives; to the contrary, it tends to be directed at the taking of "trophy" animals rather than problem animals, or the young, old or otherwise weakened individuals that tend to suffer the highest mortalities in nature.
Hikers, campers, and visitors to the off-trail areas of GYE are generally well aware of the need to be alert and avoid encounters with wildlife. Those that are not need to improve; we should not enable their ignorance or stubbornness by imposing it on their natural surroundings.
Although there is something to be said for providing recreational opportunities to the sporting community, there is more to be said for moving more toward the ecosystem-based management that a growing number of U.S. environmentalists, students, tourists, etc. are learning to understand, appreciate, and enjoy.
Human society's way into the future will be less about making the outdoors our drop-off points for human-centered recreational activities; and more about supporting and enjoying our wild ecosystems for what they are in their own right. As a strong step forward into that future, let us continue our protections of GYE Grizzlies under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.