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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) welcomed Wyoming Governor Matt Mead and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Director Dan Ashe to a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee briefing on improving the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Barrasso questioned both Director Ashe and Governor Mead about ESA reform and how the grey wolf and grizzly bear listings impact Wyoming and other states.

Barrasso Questions USFWS Director Ashe on ESA Reform and Grizzly Bear: 

“Today, there are more than 1,000 species that are listed as ‘endangered’ by the Fish and Wildlife Service, even more are considered ‘threatened.’ 

“And yet, in the 40-year history of the Endangered Species Act, only 30 species have actually been delisted because they have been recovered. 

“To me, this demonstrates clear failure of a policy that was established to provide for the recovery of imperiled plants and animals. 

“So, my question has to do with implementation. I think the implementation of the Endangered Species Act is notoriously inconsistent. 

“In their 2013 resolution, the Western Governors Association identified seven key goals that your agency should consider. The first was to require clear, measurable recovery parameters. 

“In Wyoming, there have been several cases where your agency has changed population requirements multiple times through the listing process.  

“They’re moving targets and they compromise our states’ ability to engage in meaningful conservation activities. 

“One example is the grizzly bear. The agency has continued to move the goal posts for grizzly bear recovery. 

“Management of the bears, which are recovered, cost the state of Wyoming more than $1.5 million a year in conflict resolution, damage investigations, and landowner compensation. 

“Isn’t it fair to say that if the agency continues to use these moving targets for population,

it not only creates a financial burden for states, but it also fosters a sense of distrust with your agency?

Click here for video of Sen. Barrasso questioning USFWS Director Ashe on Grizzly Bears 

Barrasso Questions USFWS Director Ashe on Grey Wolf:

“Director Ashe, you testified before this committee in May that Wyoming had met every goal set by Fish and Wildlife Service and it was time to delist the grey wolf. 

“There are other recovered species that remain protected under the Endangered Species Act. 

“So the question comes, does the management of the grey wolf and other already recovered species have the potential to distract from other more pressing species and the recovery efforts that you need to make elsewhere?

Click here for video of Sen. Barrasso questioning USFWS Director Ashe on Grey Wolf 

To watch Senator Barrasso’s entire questioning of USFWS Director Ashe, click here

Barrasso Questions Gov. Mead on ESA and Grizzly Bear/Grey Wolf 

“Welcome, Governor Mead. First I would like to say that I appreciate your work with the Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure the sage grouse determination was ‘not warranted.’ 

“You spoke about the way the Fish and Wildlife Service has approached conservation of the grey wolf and the grizzly bear in Wyoming. 

“Specifically, you mentioned some of the economic burdens placed on states when recovered species remained listed. 

“So can you provide examples of the way the Endangered Species Act places economic burdens on state and local governments?

 Click here for video of Sen. Barrasso questioning Gov. Mead on Grizzly Bear, Grey Wolf 

Barrasso Questions Gov. Mead on ESA Moving Targets and Grizzly Bears

“I asked Director Ashe about moving targets and I don’t know if you would like to comment at all about moving targets, if that’s been a frustrating process for our state and how we try to deal with and meet federal goals that I believe keep changing?”

 Click here for video of Sen. Barrasso questioning Gov. Mead on ESA and Grizzly Bears