On a December 12 telephone press conference, scientists will discuss the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s expected decision to remove the Yellowstone grizzly bear population from the Endangered Species List.  A primary question before the USFWS is whether the population’s continuance is dependent on the availability of whitebark pine nuts, in dramatic decline due to climate change.
The wheels to delist are being set in motion at the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee meeting, taking place in Missoula, Montana, December 10 and 11. If plans proceed as expected, the USFWS will begin drafting its delisting rule next month.
A delisting would normally be cause to celebrate, but outside scientists caution that a decision may be premature.
WHO Dr. David Mattson, a visiting senior research scientist and lecturer at Yale, was a member of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team between 1979 and 1993. As a bear researcher at the U.S. Geological Survey he authored numerous studies used to manage the Yellowstone bear population and continues to track its condition.
Dr. Jesse Logan, the retired head of the U.S. Forest Service’s bark beetle research unit, was the first to project that beetles would attack whitebark pine, which grow at elevations above 8,500 feet. He published a study in 2009 that found beetle infestations were occurring across 95 percent of the Yellowstone Ecosystem. This summer, he was part of a team, lead by a Utah State researcher, that discovered there has been a regime change in infestations. They are now occurring year after year, in something of a slow, steady death march, in addition to the large-scale outbreaks still taking place.
Kristin Carden, an attorney with the environmental law firm Earthjustice, is monitoring the agency’s decision making process to ensure compliance with the Endangered Species Act.
Melanie Fitzpatrick, a climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, will moderate the call.
WHEN Thursday, December 12, 9 am MST/11 am EST
WHERE Call:  (866) 206-7202 Passcode:  Grizzly bear
A recording can be made available upon request.

Scroll to Top