Renowned scientist and animal conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall is speaking out against the government's efforts to drop the grizzly bear from the Endangered Species List, a move which would allow the vulnerable and revered animal to become but a trophy "mounted on a wall."
Goodall is among 58 prominent scientists that on Thursday sent a letter to U.S. Department of the Interior secretary Sally Jewell and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) director Daniel Ashe denouncing their proposal to make grizzlies of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) available for trophy hunting.
The coalition states that the bears "continue to be imperiled by resource declines, including habitat and dietary staple losses" as a result of climate change, invasive species, and drought.
And in a video posted on her organization's website, Goodall said she was "really shocked to hear about" the de-listing, which was first announced in March. Wildlife officials in Montana this week revealed a draft plan, under which local residents can hunt Yellowstone grizzlies with a fifty-dollar permit.
In the video, Goodall described being "deeply impressed" by the grizzlies that she "met" in Yellowstone and Alaska, citing their "remarkable intelligence, differing personalities, close family bond, and their relationship with the land."
She said that for her they "symbolize, along with the wolf, the American Wilderness," and notes that "many Native American tribes revere them and think of them as teachers."
However, she laments that under the rule change, these animals "might be shot by trophy hunters so that [their] head[s] could be mounted on the wall" and their "skin laid on the floor for human feet to trample."
The FWS estimates that the current Yellowstone grizzly population numbers around 700, up from 136 bears forty years ago. However, the scientists say that the agency is "not scientifically justified in concluding" that the group has "reached long-term stability and is therefore secure for the foreseeable future."
"There is far too much uncertainty reflected in the current science to justify such a conclusion," the letter states. "[R]ather, the best available science and the precautionary principle demands continued federal monitoring of this vulnerable population, which will only happen with continued [Endangered Species Act] protection."
"Now is the time to redouble grizzly bear conservation efforts," the group concludes, "not decrease them."