Tuesday, November 15, 2005

No bears for oil


The Bush Regime announced today that it will take the grizzlies in Yellowstone National Park off the endangered species list. The AP gives the story without any context, simply suggesting that the grizzlies are being delisted because of the increase of the bear population over the last 30 years. The article goes on to say
Stripping the bears of protection could eventually clear the way for grizzly hunting. These three states [where Yellowstone is located] would assume management responsibilities from federal wildlife officials and have greater flexibility in dealing with the bears.

Environmental groups are split on the move. The National Wildlife Federation supports delisting, saying it highlights the success of the endangered species law. The Natural Resources Defense Council says that too many threats still exist for the bears.
I had to go to the Times of London to get the real reason for delisting the bears:
Lance Craighead, a bear biologist, said that many bears already live in areas outside the national parks. He said: "Development there has been restricted because of the bear's status. But once it's off, then the Bush Administration has nothing to slow down oil and gas development and timber harvest in those areas.
Taking the bears off the endangered list will put their survival in danger
"Federal protection is the only reason these bears exist in Yellowstone today, and they aren't ready to survive without it, Louisa Willcox, director of the NRDC's wild bears project, said. "Delisting the Yellowstone bear prematurely would drive it back to the brink of extinction." She added: "It would open their habitat to oil and gas drilling and would allow hunters to kill bears that roam outside the park."
The National Wildlife Federation, the one environmental organization that backs the plan, argues "that the bear numbers threaten landscape, livestock and people." It is certainly telling that their reasons for supporting the plan make no mention of the welfare of the bears--or of the ulterior motives for delisting.

UPDATE: The Natural Resources Defense Council and American Wildlands have more background information here: Planned Obsolescence: Greater Yellowstone Forest Plans Would Put Grizzly Bears on the Road To Nowhere.

And the Sierra Club has a factsheet summarizing problems with delisting the grizzly.

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