Grizzly Managers Spin Whitebark Pine Woes: Just How Important is Whitebark to Yellowstone Bears?

Very important.

Interesting post by NRDC’s Louisa Wilcox about how the science shows how critical whitebark pine nuts are for grizzlies and how the managers talk out of both sides of their mouth.

“In its August 9th legal brief challenging the 2009 ruling by Federal Judge Donald Molloy that required relisting of the Yellowstone grizzly bear under the Endangered Species Act, federal attorneys said, “the grizzly does not depend on whitebark pine for its survival. The grizzly is a very successful omnivore, and that…they will somehow be able to adapt to a decline in whitebark pines.” The legal briefs then go on to dismiss the issue of whitebark pine relationships to grizzly bear vital rates, including mortality risks, as well as the reproductive success of females. This argument, as the district court ruled, and I will discuss later, runs counter to the evidence on the record.

Then, just yesterday, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team sent out a press release saying, “the scarcity of whitebark pine cones this year may be driving bears to find food at lower elevations, where there is more human activity, increasing the chances of bear-human interactions.” (This comes in a year when 22 grizzly bears are known to have died, and many human-bear conflicts have occurred — months before bears will den up.)”

Grizzly Managers Spin Whitebark Pine Woes: Just How Important is Whitebark to Yellowstone Bears?.
Louisa Willcox’s Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC