For Immediate Release, June 9, 2016
Contact: Andrea Santarsiere, (303) 854-7748, firstname.lastname@example.org
$15,000 Reward Offered Over Poached Grizzly Bear in Idaho's Centennial Mountains
VICTOR, Idaho— The Center for Biological Diversity is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for illegally killing an endangered grizzly bear in Idaho’s Centennial Mountains. The pledge, along with a $5,000 reward offered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, $5,000 offered by the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust, and $600 offered by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, pushes the total reward being offered to $15,600.
Idaho officials are seeking information about the dead grizzly bear, which was found on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest near East Dry Creek, off the Yale-Kilgore Road in Island Park. Officials say the bear was reported to the Citizens Against Poaching Hotline over the weekend of June 4. Conservation officers concluded that the young grizzly bear had been dead a few weeks and did not die of natural causes.
“The illegal killing of any wildlife is appalling,” said Andrea Santarsiere, a staff attorney with the Center. “But this particular incident is even more tragic because this bear was killed in the heart of a wildlife corridor connecting central Idaho and Yellowstone, which is important to ensure the recovery of sustainable bear populations in both areas.”
East Dry Creek flows out of the Centennial Mountains, a key wildlife corridor that runs along the borders of Idaho and Montana, reaching from Yellowstone National Park to the Selway-Bitterroot Recovery Zone. The Selway-Bitterroot was recognized as one of six grizzly bear recovery areas in the 1993 recovery plan for the species, which noted the importance the Selway-Bitterroot could play in connecting isolated bear populations, particularly the isolated population in the Yellowstone ecosystem. The Selway-Bitterroot, however, remains the only established recovery area without any documented resident grizzly bears.
With more than 16 million acres of land, and centered around the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area and the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area, the Selway-Bitterroot represents one of the largest contiguous areas of suitable habitat for grizzly bears in the western United States. It provides the most likely solution to long-term genetic concerns surrounding the Greater Yellowstone population. Scientists predict the area could support a population of 300 to 600 bears.
The Center filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reintroduce bears to the area in December 2014, but the Service has not yet issued a substantive response.
“It’s bad enough that protected bears can’t make it through this important linkage zone without getting poached,” said Santarsiere. “But the Service’s recent proposal to strip federal protections from Yellowstone bears makes it all but certain that other bears traveling through the Centennials will face the same fate as this bear.”
In March the Fish and Wildlife Service announced plans to remove Endangered Species Act protections for Yellowstone’s famed grizzly bears, paving the way for state-supported trophy hunts. Grizzly bear numbers in the Greater Yellowstone area have improved since the animals were first protected in 1975, but the bears continue to be threatened by isolation from other grizzly populations, loss of key food sources and human-caused mortalities.
Last year 61 grizzly deaths were recorded in the Greater Yellowstone area, the most in decades. That followed 28 in 2014, 29 in 2013, 56 in 2012 and 44 in 2011. About 80 percent of the deaths are human-caused, according to federal records.
Overall grizzly bears occupy less than 4 percent of their historic U.S. range.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.