And yet, they're still listed as threatened due to a recent lawsuit
Sometimes I wish people in the environmentalist realm could see that when a species stays on the ESA list after biological recovery, it: 1) does harm to the ESA and 2) redirects limited resources to that species and its habitat. 1) The ESA is damaged in that the management is not returned to the states despite relative biological security (and in the off chance that something goes wrong, "We can emergency relist in a few weeks if necessary" Chris Servheen
, Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator). Thus, groups strongly opposed to the initial listing of other species for any reason fight even harder to keep that species off the list, as history shows that species aren't delisted after recovery, at least within a decade. 2) Limited financial resources are inefficiently used if a species is biologically recovered; other species whose listing is warranted but precluded
don't even get on the list due to limited funds or other resources. I won't even get into the money needed to fight lawsuits... In case you want a specific, highly relevant example of what could be done with the federal Yellowstone grizzly funds, there's a large expense on the Idaho/Montana border called the Bitterroot/Selway
that is currently devoid of grizzly bears, despite being prime, wilderness habitat. A reintroduction effort was proposed in 2000 and even had local community support, but funds were not available for the action and it ended up dying under a less friendly presidential administration and secretary of interior in 2001. Delisting the GYE population would undoubtedly result in a large portion of those resources directed to efforts like this one.
Furthermore, the state plans (example
) to manage bears may have better safeguards for the Yellowstone grizzly population (as one local wildlife manager in MT argued), as they are based on a more up-to-date understanding of the species' ecological needs (mid-2000s vs. 1993 data). Of course, very limited hunting may be allowed in the long run under state management, which is unacceptable to some and thus they fight to keep the species listed.
As for the whitebark pine issue
, grizzly bears are not likely to suffer serious
negative consequences due to the decline; they are adaptive and only select individuals in certain years use WBP seeds extensively (this is one food source of dozens available). The grizzly population has even grown (see OPs link) as WBP declines extensively across the GYE ecosystem over the last two decades. Nevertheless, I am concerned about the WBP decline, but for the sake of the tree species itself and a few other species that regularly use this subalpine habitat. The triple whammy
of pine beetle, blister rust, and climate change may spell the end of WBP stands as we know them. The species may even deserve listing
itself, if its not precluded by other efforts (ironically, for example, GYE grizzly bears...).
Sorry for the rant...