Idaho (KMVT / KSVT) – The Idaho Fish and Game Commission on December 16 approved an updated “memorandum of understanding” between Idaho, Wyoming and Montana regarding management commitments. State grizzly bears in support of bear suppression in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. The Wyoming and Montana commission also approved the MOA.
The MOA sets out the process by which the Tri-States “will coordinate the management and allocation of discretionary grizzly bear mortality in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem to ensure the genetic health, viability and long-term sustainability of the grizzly bear population. by GYE ”.
The MOA updates a similar 2016 agreement by adding language to protect genetic diversity within the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem by moving at least two grizzly bears from outside the GYE to the GYE by 2025, unless no migration from outside the ecosystem is detected in the meantime.
Genetic monitoring of the Greater Yellowstone population will continue, and genetic diversity and effective population size will be reassessed at least every 14 years, which corresponds to one generation of grizzly bears. If migration is not detected, states will continue to move additional bears into the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem.
The MOU also establishes different management strategies to limit mortality based on ranges of population estimates greater than a minimum of 831 bears in suitable habitat identified within the ecosystem. The agreement includes a sliding scale of discretionary allowable mortality, such as hunting, management actions, etc., with higher allocations when the population in suitable habitat is higher and lower when the population is lower.
States agreed on management objectives for suitable habitat based on recently updated population estimates for the period 2002 to 2019. Unless 831 bears, no public hunting would be permitted. With more than 1,033 bears, the total mortality would not exceed 22% per year for males and 10% for independent females (without cubs).
The Yellowstone grizzly bear population has met federal population recovery goals since the early 2000s, but a series of lawsuits have prevented the bears from being removed from the endangered species list.
Idaho contains approximately 8 percent of the suitable grizzly bear habitat in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Wyoming contains about 58 percent of suitable habitat, and Montana about 34 percent. Grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem were delisted in 2007 and again in 2017, but were re-listed by court order, most recently in 2018. All three states have agreed to revisions to continue to support de-listing of grizzly bears.
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