AWR NEWS RELEASE
09/30/1999IDAHO GOVERNOR GOES ON RECORD AGAINST BITTERROOT GRIZZLY REINTRODUCTION
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Kempthorne Opposes Reintroduction, Favors Natural Immigration
MISSOULA- In a letter to the Alliance for the Wild Rockies conservation organization (copy of letter follows below), Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne (R) officially went on record as being firmly opposed to any reintroduction of grizzly bears into Idaho.
"I want to make it perfectly clear that I oppose any reintroduction of grizzly bears into Idaho...period."
Kempthorne also wrote, "I agree with the Alliance for the Wild Rockies' concept of relying on natural immigration of these bears into the Bitterroots..."
Kempthorne declared that he will lead any involvement of the State of Idaho should reintroduction be "forced on the state," and he also stated his support for delisting of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population.
"This letter reveals a fundamental weakness in the government's preferred alternative, the so-called ROOTS plan," said Mike Bader, executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. "Under the government-timber industry plan, the Governor, who is totally opposed to grizzly reintroduction, would be in charge of appointing the management committee. The stacked-deck approach simply isn't fair and won't work."
Alliance for the Wild Rockies, scientists and other conservation groups support Alternative 4, the so-called Conservation Biology Alternative, that would rely on natural immigration to the Bitterroots but would maintain threatened species status for the grizzly bears, a status opposed by Governor Kempthorne.
Bader said he hopes that despite their differences in opinion on legal status for the bears, he hopes the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and the governor's office can work together to achieve the best recovery plan for grizzly bears in the Salmon-Selway-Bitterroot region.
September 27, 1999
Mr. Mike Bader
Thank you for contacting me regarding the United States Fish and Wildlife Service's (USFWS) grizzly bear reintroduction proposal. I appreciate having your thoughts on this matter.
I want to make it perfectly clear that I oppose any reintroduction of grizzly bears into Idaho...period.
I agree with the Alliance for the Wild Rockies' concept of relying on natural immigration of these bears into the Bitterroots, which experts believe will take at least 25 years. However, I do not agree that the threatened status for grizzly bears should be maintained. In fact, I believe that the number of bears in the Yellowstone area has increased to the point needed to qualify for delisting.
I will lead any involvement of the State of Idaho regarding grizzly bears if reintroduction is forced on the state.
Again, thank you for your letter.