Haaland Agrees Grizzlies Have Recovered but Refuses to Commit to Working with Daines Toward Delisting
U.S. SENATE—U.S. Senator Steve Daines today at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources hearing pressed Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on committing to follow the science, complete the review in twelve months, and delist grizzly bears where they have exceeded recovery numbers in the region.
Watch the exchange HERE.
Senator Daines: Grizzly bears have now exceeded, exceeded recovery targets in both the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, and bear numbers are well over the objectives set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Grizzlies are ranging farther off the Rocky Mountain Front into Central Montana, where they haven’t been seen for over a century. It is past time to celebrate this recovery, delist the bears and return the management back to the states. Fish and Wildlife Service scientists have twice found that the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem bears have recovered and delisted them, but courts have prevented delisting from going into effect.
Secretary Haaland, I am confident that the career scientists will find yet for a third time in just the past 17 years that the Greater Yellowstone bears have recovered. When that happens, will you support legislation to codify the Fish and Wildlife and Service’s delisting to prevent legal uncertainty?
Secretary Haaland: Thank you for the question, Senator. And as you said, the courts require us to look at the species population as a whole and even though they have recovered in some areas, it’s not true for every area.
Senator Daines: So the question – the question specifically was the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem?
Secretary Haaland: Well, it’s good news that yes, the grizzly bear is recovering as I said, in some areas—
Senator Daines: Wait– I want to say recovering – have the grizzly bears – have they exceeded the target in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem for populations?
Secretary Haaland: Senator, yes, as I mentioned, the grizzly bears are recovering in some areas. And other areas that are not that requires us to look at the grizzly bear population as a whole.
Senator Daines: I understand. But you’re not answering the question. The specific question is the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and you said they have recovered. So, given that we agree that they have recovered, will you support legislation to codify Fish and Wildlife Service’s delisting to prevent this legal uncertainty?
Secretary Haaland: Senator, we will follow the science and the law. I know Director Williams and our staff take this role very seriously. Also, the Endangered Species Act has been a lifesaver for many species. We will continue to follow the science and the law with respect to grizzly bears.
Senator Daines: Well, I’m glad we agree that the grizzlies have recovered in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. And additionally, would you commit to keeping the Fish and Wildlife Service to that 12 month review timeline?
Secretary Haaland: I will be happy to update you on any reviews that the Fish and Wildlife Service are responsible for, they work very hard.
Senator Daines: My question was, will you commit to the 12 month timeline? Will you commit to working together to get that done in 12 months?
Secretary Haaland: I know they work very hard to meet their…
Senator Daines: That’s not an answer. Will you commit to the 12 month timeline that’s been laid out by statute?
Secretary Haaland: Senator they – we work very hard to meet our timelines…
Senator Daines: That’s not an answer Secretary Haaland and will you commit to that – to work together to meet the 12 month statutory timeline?
Secretary Haaland: Thank you. We’ll do our best Senator.
Senator Daines: That’s not an answer, but thank you.