Feds release regional grizzly bear conservation strategy

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Coexistence and connectivity remain top priorities to continue successful recovery

MISSOULA, Mont. (May 3, 2013) – The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service released yesterday its draft Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy. The report is intended to guide how grizzly bears in the NCDE are managed if federal Endangered Species Act protections are removed.

The following is a statement from Erin Edge, Rockies and Plains associate for Defenders of Wildlife:

“Grizzly bear recovery in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem has been an amazing conservation success story to date. However, this population must be given the opportunity to connect with other populations. We must restore connections between the NCDE and smaller sub-populations in the Cabinet-Yaak and the Selkirks, which do not currently contain viable grizzly populations, as well as the unoccupied Bitterroot area. We will be looking closely at the conservation strategy and will work with the Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure the continued success of grizzly bear recovery well into the future.

“Further, federal and state agencies, private landowners and the conservation community all must redouble our collective efforts to reduce potential conflicts between people and bears. As grizzly bears continue to expand, they are likely to come in more frequent contact with humans. It's up to all of us living in bear country to make sure that grizzlies are not killed unnecessarily as a result of inadequate coexistence strategies. Working together, we should increase the use of nonlethal tools that will allow people and grizzlies to safely coexist on the landscape. An electric fence, for example, goes a long way toward protecting backyard chickens, fruit trees and other attractants that may entice a hungry bear. Through collective action, we can protect both people and bears as we look forward to full recovery of this grizzly bear population.”

Background:
The Conservation Strategy sets the stage for what interagency cooperative efforts will look like if delisting of the Northern Continental Divide grizzly bear population occurs.

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Links:
Read the draft conservation strategy
Learn more about what Defenders is doing to help people coexist with grizzly bears, including our electric fence incentive program

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.organd follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.

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