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An Unbearably Grizzly Letter
NRDC is highlighting a letter signed by more "than 250 scientists and researchers ... opposing a federal proposal to lift Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections from grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem." The letter contends that "an isolated population of 500 to 600 bears does not constitute a biologically recovered one. A population of 2,000 to 3,000 is needed for genetic diversity and to withstand regional-scale variations."

The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) noted that they have received about 160,000 comments on the issue, most of them form letters. However, an FWS official did state that a "significant number" of comments raised issues that need to be considered by the agency.

Since there are serious scientific issues that FWS needs consider in evaluating the continued applicability of the ESA to Yellowstone grizzly bears, it is a shame that hundreds of scientists signed a letter instead of placing their data in the context of a Data Quality petition.

The FWS already demonstrated their willingness to adhere to the Data Quality Act (DQA) when they withdrew faulty information and took corrective measures in response to a DQA petition challenging agency data regarding the Florida panther.

Winston is not familiar with the scientific merits of the arguments for and against ESA protections for grizzly bears. However, he does know that the DQA can be a powerful mechanism for changing proposed agency policy. A letter signed by hundreds of scientists may get press attention but a substantive Data Quality petition gets results.
  • Click here for story on NRDC website
  • Click here for CRE RegWeek on FWS Information Correction


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