Michael Dax is the author of Grizzly West: A Failed Attempt to Reintroduce Grizzly Bears in the Mountain West (Nebraska, 2015). He lives and writes in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Last summer, in its second attempt since 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deemed grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem recovered. When conservation efforts first began in the early 1980s, the bears’ population had dwindled below 150, but with roughly 700 grizzlies currently inhabiting the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the Service removed federal protections and returned management to the states of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.
But following a court decision last autumn regarding wolf populations in the Great Lake states that hinged on an obscure provision of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) related to geographically isolated species, the Service opened a comment period to accept public input on how treating Yellowstone grizzlies as a distinct population would affect other grizzly populations…
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