Here are five New Year's wishes for Yellowstone grizzlies in 2013.
One, a DNA-based population study.
It's often said the Yellowstone grizzlies are the most studied bears in the world, But 53 years after the Craighead brothers began their pioneering research to get an accurate count on Yellowstone grizzlies (in 1959) biologists don't have a credible estimate on the number of grizzlies in the Yellowstone region.
The science is available--biologists have already done a DNA population for grizzlies in Glacier Park and the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem--but U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service grizzly bear recovery coordinator Chris Servheen refuses to use the best available science to get an accurate count on the number of Yellowstone grizzlies.
Two, a new grizzly bear recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Chris Servheen has been the one and only grizzly bear recovery coordinator since the early 1980's. Why aren't grizzlies recovered and off the Endangered Species list? What's taken so long? Servheen is the problem.
He's never had the cajones to demand sensible land management policies from the U.S. Forest Service in order to protect bear habitat and reduce grizzly mortality. He's never been willing to take on ranchers and the livestock industry, who ruthlessly kill grizzlies and limit their range. Servheen and his syncopaths talk about grizzly bear management, but it's really all about people management on public lands.
Servheen is way past retirement age. It's obvious that before retiring, Servheen plans on going out in a blaze of glory by removing Endangered Species Act protections for Yellowstone grizzlies, and grizzlies in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. He thinks he'll go down in history as "the man who saved grizzlies." He's a ruthless S.O.B. who's selling out the long-term future of grizzlies for personal aggradizement.
Three, legally binding rules and regulations to protect grizzly habitat. Most occupied grizzly bear habitat is on U.S. Forest Service land, but Forest Service guidelines on protecting grizzly habitat are discretionary, not legally enforceable.
Four, a peer-reviewed analysis of grizzly bear research in the Yellowstone region. Millions of dollars are spent studying non-issues, while ignoring legitimate problems that really count.
Five, connectivity. Yellowstone grizzlies are oh-so-close to being connected by land to grizzlies in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. It's important to link these populations because Yellowstone grizzlies have been isolated from other bears for more than a century. Think of sisters marrying brothers, or jokes about the cross-eyed children of cousins who married.
Servheen's solution to this problem is to bring in hookers, excuse me, the occasional female grizzly, from one region to another. That's not the same as letting Darwin's survival of the fittest bring together bears from different geographic regions.