By Heidi Godwin
Wildlife and wild places are important to us here in the west. Not just because they offer a refreshing, vitalizing way to throw off the stresses of everyday life, but because they are what make this place special. We believe that we all benefit from wilderness and big creatures like the grizzly bear and hope that you will help us in protecting this majestic creature.
Right now there is a push in government to take the grizzly bear in Yellowstone off of the Endangered Species List. If this happens, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming will be responsible for the management of the great bear outside of park. Montana has already drafted its management plan and will be releasing it for public comment sometime in May. (We’ve had a look at a preliminary draft of the Montana management plan and, thanks to compromise on both sides of the table, the State has come up with a plan that’s pretty good for bears.) This comment period will be an important opportunity to make a strong statement to the State that grizzlies matter not only to those of us who love wilderness and wildlife, but to all of us that support and hold these communities together.
Although personal letters tend to be more effective with decision makers, we understand that everyone is busy. For that reason, we have comment cards available at the Bozeman office that you can sign and send to MT Fish Wildlife and Parks (MTFWP 1400 South 19th, Bozeman, MT 59718) or use as a jumping off point when composing your own comments. The primary points we are asking everyone to address in comments are:
- Make sure that grizzlies are provided wild, roadless habitat on public lands within and between Yellowstone and the Selway-Bitterroot, and north from Yellowstone to Glacier.
- Protect bears trying to recolonize areas outside of Yellowstone and the current recovery zone area - especially females. Reconnecting grizzly bear ecosystems, now isolated, is critical to ensuring a healthy future for the grizzly.
- Focus on resolving sanitation problems around Yellowstone through education, outreach and putting bear-proof dumpsters on all public lands. Sanitation doesn’t need to be a problem for grizzly bears, yet is the result of many mortalities each year due to chronic garbage and sanitation problems.
- Expand law enforcement efforts - this is one of the critical means of protecting habitat and curbing poaching.
We appreciate you taking the time to let your voice be heard on this important issue. For more information, contact Heidi Godwin at Heidi.Godwin@sierraclub.org, or at 406-582-8365 ext. 3001.