Leaders of the state and federal agencies involved in managing grizzly bears are meeting in Missoula Tuesday and Wednesday.
Members of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) convene twice a year to coordinate policy, planning, management and research in the states where grizzlies live. Their goal is to recover local populations so that eventually the bears can be moved off of the endangered species list.
The U.S. Forest Service’s Ellen Davis is executive coordinator of the IGBC:
"They will be taking a look at the Yellowstone ecosystem conservation strategy. That ecosystem has done really well in terms of recovery," Davis says.
The Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee last met in November in Wyoming. There, 18 of 20 of its members OK'd the new conservation strategy. Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk, however, voted against it.
The conservation strategy is not official until it is signed by the agency. The committee is hoping that this signing will take place in Missoula this week. That will take the bears one step closer to being removed from the endangered species list.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has said it hopes to formally announce its decision on de-listing Yellowstone area grizzlies by the end of this year. The agency favors de-listing, but there is significant public opposition to that.