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 “Successful State Stewardship: A Legislative Hearing to Examine S.614, the Grizzly Bear State Management Act.”
The hearing featured testimony from Patrick Crank, attorney at Crank Legal Group, P.C.; Chuck Roady, vice president and general manager of F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Company; and John D. Leshy, distinguished professor emeritus at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law.
For more information on witness testimony click here.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“Today, we will consider S. 614, the Grizzly Bear State Management Act of 2019.
“Senator Enzi introduced this legislation at the beginning of the 116th Congress.
“Senators Daines, Crapo, Risch and I are cosponsors.
“The Grizzly Bear State Management Act delists the grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the list of ‘threatened’ species under the Endangered Species Act.
“It directs the secretary of the Interior to re-issue the final rule delisting the grizzly bear that was published on June 30, 2017.
“It protects the re-issuance of that final rule from judicial review.
“The grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is fully recovered.
“End of story.
“It is one of the greatest recovery successes since the Endangered Species Act was enacted in 1973.
“It is a conservation triumph led by the people of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.
“It is a triumph that all Americans should celebrate.
“President Bush, President Obama, and President Trump agree.
“Under each of their administrations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that the grizzly bear is fully recovered and should be delisted.
“Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho fist achieved all of the grizzly bear’s recovery objectives in 1997 – 23 years ago.
“By 2003, they had met all of its recovery objectives for six consecutive years – the standard required by the 1993 Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan.
“The states have met – or exceeded – all of the bear’s recovery objectives ever since.
“In 2007, the Bush administration recognized the grizzly bear’s recovery when it published a final rule delisting the species.
“That rule was overturned by a liberal federal judge based on an environmental group’s claim that a particular food source for the grizzly bear had not been adequately considered during the rulemaking.
“The importance of that food source was later debunked in a scientific review by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.
“In 2016, the Obama administration recognized the grizzly bear’s full recovery when it published a proposed rule delisting the grizzly bear.
“It concluded – ‘[T]he Yellowstone grizzly bear population has rebounded from as few as 136 bears in 1975 to an estimated 700 or more today. Grizzly bears have more than doubled their range since the mid-1970s and now occupy more than 22,500 square mile of the ecosystem. Stable population numbers for grizzly bears for more than a decade also indicate that the [Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem] is at or near its carrying capacity for the bears.’
“In 2017, the Trump administration agreed with the Obama administration’s findings.
“It finalized President Obama’s proposed rule delisting the grizzly bear.
“It also credited the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho with adopting necessary post-delisting plans and regulations that ensure the species remains recovered under state management.
“Yet again, a liberal federal judge overturned the delisting rule.
“This time, the judge agreed with a claim by environmental groups and other plaintiffs that even more studies were required.
“The grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is one of the most studied animals in the world.
“Since 1980 – 40 years ago – the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has spent more than $50 million in grizzly bear recovery.
“The states of Montana and Idaho, and stakeholders throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, have invested millions more.
“This decades-long commitment of time and resources can’t continue if the states’ good work is simply ignored by liberal courts.
“As the grizzly bear has rebounded, conflicts with humans have increased.
“Members of Wyoming’s Upper Green River Cattle Association have lost over 1,000 head of cattle since 1995.
“In 2018, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department had to capture 53 individual grizzly bears to prevent or resolve conflicts.
“These bears not only mauled livestock but tragically killed a Wyoming elk hunting guide and injured his client.
“This year, grizzly bear attacks injuring humans are happening at a record rate.
“By July 1, seven people were attacked and injured by grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem – more than the first six months of any other year since data was first collected in 1992.
“This is a higher total than six of the previous ten years – an unsettling trend since over 80 percent of conflicts generally occur in the second half of the year.
“The Grizzly Bear State Management Act will help address this by giving back to states the authority they need – and have earned – to manage the grizzly bear.
“It will recognize the full recovery of the grizzly bear and delist it once and for all.
“It will honor the conservation investment of people throughout Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho – and improve the public safety of our communities.”