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Episode 19 - Dr. Brad Bergstrom


Don’t miss this show featuring Dr. Brad Bergstrom, a mammalian ecologist, conservation biologist, and Professor of Biology at Valdosta State University. For nearly ten years, Brad chaired the Conservation Committee of the American Society of Mammalogists, where he reviewed endangered species policies. Brad has been deeply involved with large carnivore issues, especially grizzly bears and wolves. His views on delisting and grizzly bear recovery are insightful, interesting and wise.





INTERVIEW EXCERPTS

"More threats to the future survival of grizzly bears have emerged, because the four major food resources of grizzly bears are all in decline, at least in some major parts of that range. So it’s not just whitebark pine, it’s the native cutthroat trout. It’s the army cutworm and elk populations. All of those are in decline."

"We argued that the goal to meet the intent of the ESA, the goal ought to be to recover the entire taxon, whether that’s a species or sub species. And in the case of the grizzly bear, that really would be the entire species of grizzly bear within the lower 48 states. And so that means in conservation genetic terms, that means managing that entire meta-population."

"Restoration of a viable population of grizzly bears in Idaho Selway Bitterroot Ecosystem is important because it is one of the largest remaining chunks of suitable habitat -- probably the largest remaining -- that is currently unoccupied by grizzly bears. And it’s intermediate geographic location between the two largest populations, that is Greater Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide, would make it a vital dispersal link."

"The ESA is written in a general enough way to embrace the current science, whatever that happens to be, and it’s been highly successful. It has saved something like 99 percent of the species that have been listed since its enactment have been saved from extinction…The science changes. But their quotas, their goals, their magic numbers, they don’t change."

"I think the states in this particular case, Idaho and Wyoming particularly, and Montana to an extent, want the species delisted as soon as possible so that they can satisfy the trophy hunting constituency."

"So, the grizzly bear for example, it’s a long-lived slow reproducing species whose natural mortality rate is probably less than 10 percent. So, it evolved without having to deal with high mortality. And if you add a significant component of human-caused mortality, they are not designed to deal with that as smaller animals, faster reproducing animals are…And when hunting becomes legalized, many conservation biologists are afraid that the population will suffer excessive mortality, will start to decline."

"We need to have a functioning population that is at a level of what can be defined as “ecological effectiveness.” Are they playing their role in the ecosystem, whether that be an apex predator or whatever?"



MORE READING

Listed: dispatches from America's Endangered Species Act, Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, MA., Roman, J. (2011)

Predatory bureaucracy: the extermination of wolves and the transformation of the West, University of Colorado Press, Boulder, CO.  Robinson, M.J. (2005)

The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America, Harper Collins, New York. Brinkley, D. (2009).

Yellowstone: A Journey Through America's Wild Heart, National Geographic Society. Quammen, D. (2016)

American Society of Mammalogists and Society for Conservation Biology (2016) Joint statement on proposed Grizzly Bear delisting

License to kill: reforming federal wildlife control to restore biodiversity and ecosystem function, Bergstrom et al. (2014), Conservation Letters 7: 131-142.  

Endangered Species Coalition and EarthJustice, (2003): A citizens' guide to the ESA.




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