Click here to watch Chairman Barrasso’s remarks.  

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), delivered the following remarks at a hearing titled, “From Yellowstone’s Grizzly Bear to the Chesapeake’s Delmarva Fox Squirrel -- Successful State Conservation, Recovery, and Management of Wildlife.”

The hearing featured testimony from John Kennedy, deputy director of Wyoming Game & Fish Department; Mike McCormick, president of Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation; and Cindy Dohner, former regional director (Southeast) of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

For more information on witness testimony click here.

Senator Barrasso’s remarks:

“Today, the committee is going to examine several of the important roles states play in successful conservation, recovery, and management of wildlife.

“Across the nation, state wildlife and conservation agencies are on the front lines of preventing species from becoming endangered, of recovering threatened and endangered species, and of preventing the spread of invasive species.

“States– not federal agencies – have primacy over wildlife management.

“States have made significant investments in research and on the ground conservation.

“According to the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, states employ over 50,000 wildlife professionals.

“Including more than 11,000 degreed wildlife biologists, 10,000 wildlife law enforcement officers, and 6,000 employees with advanced education degrees.

“They also leverage the efforts of over 190,000 volunteers.

“States contribute and carry out more than $5.6 billion in conservation efforts.

“These enormous resources supplement over 11,000 federal employees and $2.35 billion in annual spending by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

“In Wyoming, we know the importance of responsible environmental stewardship and habitat management.

“Our wildlife and the habitat that our state provides is diverse and abundant.

“The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has done a tremendous job in safeguarding Wyoming’s wildlife resources for present and future generations.

“Our wildlife biologists partner with others in the region and at federal agencies to successfully recover numerous threatened and endangered species, such as the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, gray wolf, and the grizzly bear.

“They also actively manage thriving populations of other native wildlife: elk, deer, bison, sage grouse, and antelope. 

“States work to manage invasive species.

“One example – cheatgrass increases the risk of wildfires, it lowers the quality of forage for wildlife and livestock, it unnecessarily burdens already-stressed water supplies, and it poses one of the most significant threats to sage grouse habitat conservation efforts.

“They also manage the zebra and the quagga mussels, which threaten our aquatic ecosystems, and cause millions of dollars in damage to dams, municipal water systems, and agricultural irrigation systems.

“They monitor and manage mule deer and elk after harsh winters.

“They study and mitigate the risk of brucellosis for elk.

“And they remain on the cutting edge of research on Chronic Wasting Disease.

“Wyoming demonstrates successful conservation, recovery, and management of wildlife every day.

“It’s no easy task, and the state continues to invest countless hours and millions of dollars.

“At times, those investments have been dismissed by litigious groups and activist judges, in federal court.

“A few weeks ago, a district court judge struck down the delisting of the grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

“For the second time in a decade, courts disregarded the biological expertise of both states and federal agencies.

“The ruling is not based on the reality on the ground.

“In the delisting, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said: ‘The participating States of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming and Federal agencies have adopted the necessary post-listing plans and regulations, which adequately ensure that the [Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem] population of grizzly bears remains recovered.’

“In 1975, there were as few as 136 grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

“Today, there are more than 700 and the bears have more than doubled their range to occupy over 22,500 square miles.

“Their range continues to spread.

“Without proper management, they are a threat to public safety, not only to the people in my state but sportsmen and recreationists from across the country who want to experience Wyoming’s national parks, our forests, and other public lands.

“Tragically, on September 14 of this year, a Wyoming elk hunting guide was killed by a grizzly bear and her cub.

“This attack happened when the guide, along with his client from Florida, were cleaning an elk -- a normal part of any hunt.

“While these are serious examples of wildlife-human interactions, state wildlife managers work tirelessly to limit any negative interactions.

“We have to let Wyoming and other states do their job.”