Despite the death toll, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service grizzly bear recovery coordinator Chris Servheen and his Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee are 100% committed to removing Endangered Species Act protections for Yellowstone grizzlies by 2014. This will increase grizzly mortality, especially once legal grizzly hunts begin.
Oddly enough, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee was talking about reducing Yellowstone grizzly mortality just a few years ago
After 48 grizzlies perished in 2008, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee did a Yellowstone [Grizzly Bear] Mortality and Conflicts Reduction Report to find ways to reduce grizzly mortality and reduce the number of bear-human conflicts. How's it working?
In 2009, the number of grizzly bear deaths dropped to 31, but in 2010 there were 50 deaths. Followed by 44 deaths in 2011 and 51 deaths in 2012. The average death rate for Yellowstone grizzlies from 2007-2012 is double the average number of mortalities for 2001-2006.
Clearly, the plan to reduce Yellowstone grizzly mortality has failed and been abandoned.
Now the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee has launched a PR campaign to convince the public that killing Yellowstone grizzlies is good. Grizzly hunts are good.
When the IGBC met in Missoula, Mont., on December 11, it discussed "messages we can develop to portray the benefits derived from moving into a management mode in specific grizzly bear ecosystems."
Translation? The IGBC is searching for the right words to put a positive spin on Yellowstone grizzly hunts and allowing ranchers to shoot grizzlies on sight. Moving into "management mode" means killing grizzlies to reduce their numbers and range.
On December 29, the Billings Gazette published a "Guest Opinion" by IGBC Chairman Harv Forsgren titled "Hunting another step toward grizzly bear recovery."