Yellowstone grizzly bear population at record high – Sheridan Media

Close up big brown bear in the autumn forest

This story first appeared on Cowboy State Daily

By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

The grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem has never been greater than it is today.

This is according to the supervisor of the large carnivore section of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Dan Thompson told the Cowboy State Daily that new wildlife counting methods have made it possible to more accurately estimate the number of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone (GYE) ecosystem.

“Through extensive analysis and empirical data, we were able to revise these parameters to better reflect the true size of the population,” he said, “which represents 1,069 grizzly bears in the surveillance area. demographic”. The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Demographic Watch Area encompasses northwestern Wyoming and parts of Montana and Idaho.

Thompson said the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee released the new numbers, based on data collected over the summer, to Hunting and Fishing officials at a meeting earlier this week.

He said that while previous estimates put the area’s grizzly population at 700 to 750 bears, previously used methods of counting bears underestimated the actual population.

“It is important to relay that the population has not increased by several hundred,” said Thompson. “It’s just the numbers we report that more accurately reflect what’s real, based on the data we’ve been collecting for decades. “

Cowboy State Daily reported just a few weeks ago that there had been more grizzly bears killed this year than in previous years – but Thompson said the true death rate matches the higher population.

“This is the highest number of grizzly bears we’ve reported in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem since we started counting them in the 1970s,” Thompson noted. “The successful recovery of grizzly bears is demonstrated by the greater area occupied in the GYE since potentially the 1800s. And so I think the focus is on the mortality aspect, and people tend to forget that it is. a reflection of more bears, and more bears in new places, and that there are also more bears being born.

From the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s perspective, Thompson said the grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem is an ecological achievement.

“These bears are biologically recovered and have been for several years,” he said. “And that is why we are supporting the delisting of the population to celebrate the successful recovery of the population.”

For years, federal lawsuits have questioned whether grizzly bears should be taken off the endangered species list. As of this writing, the species is still protected.

But Thompson said keeping the bears on the list goes against the intent of the Endangered Species Act.

“The intention is to provide the necessary protections to recover this specific species or this specific population,” he explained. “And it was done in the GYE for the grizzly bears – and we should be celebrating. “

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