Ahead of Endangered Species Day, Grijalva Calls on Zinke to Scrap Grizzly Delisting Proposal, Consult with Tribes

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke today opposing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposal to remove endangered species protections for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly bears. Last year, Grijalva sent a letter to former Service Director Dan Ashe voicing his concerns about the proposed delisting. Many scientists, including renowned conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall, don’t support delisting grizzly bears because it would likely lack robust precautions to prevent further population decline and ensure connectivity with other populations of grizzlies. In addition, there are continued threats to GYE grizzly bears from habitat loss, climate change, and human induced mortality.

The complete letter is available here: http://bit.ly/2rvz4eH.

The delisting proposal was developed without adequate transparency and largely disregarded the public involvement process mandated by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Tribal Nations, not yet included in a consultation process with the FWS, have raised concerns over the science being presented by the FWS and the irreparable harm to Tribal sovereignty, treaty rights, consultation mandates, and spiritual and religious freedoms should the delisting process continue. In response, a cross-border First Nations/Native American treaty was signed in 2016 to offer management practices if the states were to take control of GYE grizzly bears. Over 50 Tribal Nations stand in opposition to delisting of this species that is considered sacred.

“The Endangered Species Act is one of the most effective conservation laws that we have, and we can see its success in the great progress that is being made towards recovering the grizzly bear,” Grijalva said. “Delisting the species would put it back on the chopping block for extinction in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Decisions to delist endangered wildlife should be informed by the best available science, not based on political expediency. In the case of the grizzly, Secretary Zinke has a separate obligation to consult with Tribal Nations that revere the bear as a sacred symbol.”

The GYE grizzly bear population is currently listed as threatened under the ESA. The Act has prevented more than 99 percent of listed species from going extinct, such as the bald eagle, gray whale, and American alligator, and 90 percent of listed species are on the road to recovery. The law has been frequently attacked by Republicans and corporate polluters who wrongly blame the ESA for everything from flooding to forest fires. Ranking Member Grijalva recently wrote an opinion piece calling out Republicans for trying to disguise their efforts to gut the ESA as “reforms.”

“On Endangered Species Day, I’m calling on Republicans to abandon their crusade to eliminate safeguards that protect our land, air, and water and drive the extinction of American wildlife one species at a time,” Grijalva added. “Instead we should work together to adequately fund conservation and recovery of our endangered fish and wildlife to ensure future generations can fully experience our national parks, forests and other great American landscapes.”

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