PERC Research Fellow Offers Solutions on the Future of Grizzly Bears

Jonathan Wood testifies before Congress about best practices for managing delisted bears.

News for Immediate Release
May 15, 2019
Contact: Hannah Downey, 406-587-9591, hannah@perc.org

(Washington, D.C.)—Jonathan Wood, a research fellow at PERC and lawyer with the Pacific Legal Foundation, testified on Capitol Hill today on H.R. 2532, the Tribal Heritage and Grizzly Bear Protection Act.

Wood appeared before the House Natural Resources Committee – Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee to oppose the bill and highlight the role of state management and incentives for conservation in protecting the grizzly bear.

“The Yellowstone grizzly’s recovery, which the president of the National Wildlife Federation described as ‘a true American conservation success story,’ is a story of successful collaboration between federal biologists, state wildlife officials, conservation groups, and landowners,”  said Wood. “Such collaborations, which depend on having the right incentives, are the key to recovering more grizzly populations and other species.”

Wood explained how provisions in the bill would undermine conservation, but that Congress should instead consider ways to support state and private conservation efforts.

“These provisions, which broadly prohibit take and limit the circumstances where a permit may be granted, would effectively retract state authority over wildlife and dictate federal management in perpetuity,” explained Wood. “That said, there is much Congress can do to support the states’ efforts and incentivize similar recoveries for other populations.”

Wood highlighted several key points in his testimony:

  • The Greater Yellowstone ecosystem grizzly’s recovery is due to the collaboration of federal biologists, states, tribes, conservation groups, and landowners.
  • Congress should encourage these efforts to continue while preserving the flexibility states and tribes need to manage growing grizzly populations.
  • Unfortunately, H.R. 2532 could discourage further recovery efforts for this species and potentially others.
  • Instead, Congress should incentivize continued state and tribal efforts to establish additional populations.
  • It should also seek to convert grizzlies into less of a liability and more of an asset for the landowners who accommodate them or provide habitat.
  • Ultimately, managing recovered wildlife is a state responsibility, and it’s time for states to lead on grizzly bear conservation.

Jonathan Wood’s full written testimony is available here or see video of the hearing here.

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