Grizzly Bears, Gray Wolves, and Federalism, Oh My! The Role of the Endangered Species Act in De Facto Ecosystem-Based Management in the Greater Glacier Region of Northwest Montana
Journal of Environmental Law & Litigation, Vol. 24, 2010
83 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2010 Last revised: 7 Apr 2010
Date Written: April 1, 2010
In this Article, we explore how (1) differences in the role of the ESA for the management of grizzly bear and gray wolf populations, and (2) changes in the legal regime associated with delisting of the gray wolf, both affect species conservation and transjurisdictional, ecosystem-based management efforts in the complex institutional landscape of the GGR of northwest Montana. We believe the ESA has played the central role in efforts to implement ecosystem-based management over the past two decades in a wide range of settings, so these differences and likely changes in the legal regime are likely to affect the success of such efforts. The experience of grizzly and wolf management in the GGR is therefore relevant for the conservation of wide-ranging predators and ecosystem-based management in other locations across the United States and within the West.
Part I of this Article examines the evolution and development of the ecosystem-based management concept from the late 1980s until the present, and how its successful application has depended heavily upon the legal force of strong environmental laws such as the ESA.
Part II provides information on the legal status and protection efforts, historic and current range and populations, species recovery, and habitat conservation concerns for the grizzly and wolf. Part III includes a summary of statutes, regulations, guidelines, and management plans relevant to grizzly and wolf management, including those applicable to Glacier National Park (GNP), Lewis and Clark National Forest (LCNF), the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, the State of Montana, and Flathead County, Montana. Part IV provides an analysis of species recovery, habitat conservation, and management success on federal, tribal, and private lands in the region subject to state property defense laws, wildlife laws and regulations, and county land use regulations. Part V concludes by summarizing key insights gained from this case study and more generally their relevance for conservation of wide-ranging predators and ecosystem based management.
Keywords: Grizzly Bears, Gray Wolf, Lewis and Clark National Forest, Flathead County, Montana, Blackfeet Indian Reservation, State of Montana, ESA, GGR, Glacier National Park, GNP
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