Doug's Blog

Rants from a renegade naturalist

Is Yellowstone's Grizzly Bear Population Doomed?

Legendary environmentalist Doug Peacock on what the removal of grizzlies from the Endangered Species list means for Yellowstone’s wilderness.

Is Yellowstone's Grizzly Bear Population Doomed?Is Yellowstone's Grizzly Bear Population Doomed? Men's Journal - 4/27/17

Continue reading
1138 Hits

Don't Delist the Yellowstone Griz (nor believe everything you read)

grizzlies 750

Two contrasting news stories about bears in the West were published on April 2, 2017. The first is a credible six-year scientific study of black bears by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The second is a report from the Yellowstone Ecosystem subcommittee meeting of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team in Jackson, Wyoming, featuring the head scientist spouting familiar political bullshit about too many grizzlies ever expanding their Yellowstone range.


The Colorado study documents rising temperatures, fewer days spent in the den, increased human conflicts, and dramatically decreasing female black bear populations in southwestern Colorado. Rising conflicts with bears eating human garbage does not mean the bear population is rising. Garbage, they conclude, is not addicting; bears go back to natural food when it is available. The key to bear populations is the carrying capacity: how much food is there, which is directly related to soil moisture and plant production that is, in turn, directly related to climate change and (by correlation) to drought and rising temperatures in the American West.


On the other hand, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team in Yellowstone doesn’t believe climate change matters, writing in the Federal Register: “Therefore, we (The Fish and Wildlife Service) conclude that the effects of climate change do not constitute a threat to (the Yellowstone grizzly bear population) now, not are they anticipated to in the future.” Frank van Manen, head scientist of Study Team, says the grizzlies are expanding their range by 11 percent every couple years. Why? He says it’s because there are too many bears: “We are packing more sardines in the sardine can.” Van Manen thinks they are overflowing from the can into new territory where conflicts with livestock abound, and that today we are seeing the largest Yellowstone grizzly bear population size since listed as a threatened species in 1975.


This is bullshit. Climate change has already decimated key Yellowstone grizzly foods, especially whitebark pine nuts (which is now functionally extinct as a food source for bears), and has lowered the carrying capacity of the habitat through drought and rising temperatures (for a scientific discussion, click on the Grizzly-Sardine-Can link below).


Bears are ranging out of the Yellowstone core area, but it’s because there’s not enough food there. Hence, the density of grizzlies has decreased. The population of Yellowstone bears has not increased for 15 years and has probably declined since 2007—coincidentally the date of the tipping point for methane release in the Arctic, the commencement of abrupt climate change, and the sudden death of whitebark pine trees in Yellowstone. Is there any chance these events could be related? You bet your ass.


Continue reading
2166 Hits

Delisting of Yellowstone Grizzlies Delayed

The US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) said on January 12, 2017 that it could take the agency another six months to finish reviewing 650,000 public comments submitted on the decision to remove the Yellowstone grizzly bear from the ESA list. Many of those 650,000 comments contain arguments, scientific and otherwise, about why the Yellowstone grizzly bear should not be delisted, especially because of the threat of climate change and an ill-advised trophy grizzly hunt. To review is to take another look, to evaluate. Does this mean the FWS would re-open its mind to those thousands of comments who argue the best available science says don’t delist the grizzly?

I can only wish this to be the case. The Endangered Species Act’s "best available science" mandate remains Yellowstone’s grizzlies’ best friend Whereas the past years’ Save the Yellowstone Grizzly campaign appealed to the White House, a fresh effort should be aimed directly at the FWS where some biologist are hopefully still weighing the best available science.

Our June 3, 2016 letter to President Obama included this statement:

"Unfortunately, the March 3, 2016, delisting announcement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) came paired with an astonishing declaration in the Federal Register: 'Therefore, we conclude that the effects of climate change do not constitute a threat to the [Yellowstone grizzly bear population] now, nor are they anticipated to in the future.’"

That letter was signed by E. O. Wilson, George Schaller, Jane Goodall and Michael Soule—among the world’s most respected scientists.

I believe that now we should ask many, many other scientists, peers of those FWS agency biologists, to speak out on behalf of the best available science for Yellowstone’s grizzlies. This dialogue will take place in a public forum, as there is no official comment period remaining. Those who love wild nature as well as our grandchildren must fight to recognize and respond to the beast of out time—climate change, which is indeed probably also the key argument for not delisting the grizzly.

Call it peer pressure, but let’s give it a shot; we have nothing to lose unless it’s everything.

For the wild,

Doug Peacock

Continue reading
774 Hits

Save the Yellowstone Grizzly Campaign

A star-studded coalition of scientists, authors, movie stars and conservationists has launched a media campaign and petition to convince President Barack Obama to take executive action, overruling an agency proposal to take the Yellowstone grizzly bear off the Endangered Species list.


Esteemed scientists Jane Goodall, George B. Schaller, Michael Soule, and Edward O. Wilson joined with actors Jeff Bridges, Harrison Ford and Michael Keaton, authors Carl Hiaasen, Scott Momaday, Terry Tempest Williams, Douglas Brinkley, and Thomas McGuane, along with businessman Yvon Chouinard and former Yellowstone park superintendent Michael Finley, sending a plea to the president following an announcement by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) last spring of its intention to remove federal protections of the bear.


Today, Save the Yellowstone Grizzly launches a petition to reverse the FWS action, along with a website featuring video testimony from Bridges, Chouinard, Goodall, Hiaasen, Tempest-Williams and myself, in which we make their case for the grizzly’s future.



Yellowstone’s grizzly bears are in grave danger and require continuing federal protection for their survival. It is imperative the great bears remain listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.


The FWS has regrettably taken steps to remove these protections (an action called “delisting”), and allow a grizzly bear trophy hunt on the edges of Yellowstone National Park. Americans would never permit hunting of the American bald eagle; hunting Yellowstone’s grizzly bears is equally unacceptable.


Yellowstone’s bears are genetically and physically isolated from all other grizzly populations. Their long-term survival depends on their ability to wander safely outside of Yellowstone National Park, linking up with other grizzly populations in other ecosystems.


Grizzlies are one of the slowest reproducing land mammals in North America. Delisting triggers a trophy hunt that will put them on the path to extinction.


The Yellowstone grizzly’s major food sources are in decline: Cutthroat trout have been reduced by 90 percent, and most critically, global warming has decimated the grizzly’s most important food, nuts of the whitebark pine tree.


In its delisting proposal, the FWS makes the declaration that climate change will not affect the Yellowstone grizzly now or in the future. This myopic statement flies in the face of scientific study and reality on the ground, calling into question the agency’s competency and intentions.


You can help. Please join our continuing campaign by signing this petition asking President Obama to take executive action, keeping the Yellowstone grizzly bear on the Endangered Species list. Also, you may view the videos and get updates at our website:

Please help spread the word by sharing these links with your friends.









Hash tag:

Continue reading
2256 Hits

Open Letter to President Obama

June 3, 2016


The President

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, D.C. 20500


Dear President Obama:

We are writing to thank you for your leadership on climate change and to ask for your help: Yellowstone grizzly bears are in grave danger.

Your administration has regrettably taken steps to strip the bear’s federal protections under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), opening up a grizzly bear trophy hunt on the edges of Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone’s bears are a remnant and isolated population. They must be allowed to wander safely outside of Yellowstone National Park.

Americans would never accept hunting of America’s bald eagle; hunting Yellowstone grizzly bears is equally unacceptable.

To make matters worse, America’s great bears face the same looming threats as many species across the country due to climate change. In the last decade, climate change has decimated the Yellowstone grizzly’s most important food, the white bark pine nut.

Unfortunately, the March 3, 2016, delisting announcement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) came paired with an astonishing declaration in the Federal Register: “Therefore, we conclude that the effects of climate change do not constitute a threat to the [Yellowstone grizzly bear population] now, nor are they anticipated to in the future.”

This statement is even more disturbing in light of your administration’s commitment to addressing climate change, because climate change predictions are dire for all our planet’s species. How can it be that the military considers climate change in all its decisions, while the agency responsible for our wildlife, the FWS, does not?

The same argument – the denial of climate change – was used by the FWS in 2014 to deny listing the wolverine in the lower 48 states. On April 4, 2016, that decision was reversed in federal court, and declared “arbitrary and capricious.” The FWS was ordered to reconsider its reasoning about climate change. It’s now time for this federal agency to play catch up and use “the best available science” to keep grizzly bears on the ESA list.

A critical question: Who benefits from delisting Yellowstone’s grizzly bears? The only certain outcome of delisting bears will be trophy hunts in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

We ask you to instruct our federal wildlife managers to withdraw the March 3 rule and order the FWS to take another look at how climate change impacts grizzly bears. Any decision about the bear’s future should be put on hold until independent scientific review can explore potential impacts to bears from climate change. We strongly suspect that America’s great bears face a dire future, even with the continued protection of the Endangered Species Act.


Respectfully yours,


Doug Peacock

Disabled veteran, Author, Guggenheim Fellow


Concerned scientists:

Professor Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University, Museum of Comparative Zoology

George B. Schaller, Panthera Corporation and Wildlife Conservation Society

Jane Goodall, Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace

Michael Soule, Professor Emeritus, Univ. of California, Santa Cruz


Friends of the Yellowstone ecosystem:

Jeff Bridges, Academy Award-winning actor

Douglas Brinkley, Author and professor of history

Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia, Inc.

Michael Finley, Former superintendent Yellowstone National Park

Harrison Ford, Award-winning actor

Carl Hiaasen, Journalist, author

Michael Keaton, Award-winning actor

Tom McGuane, American Academy of Arts & Letters

N. Scott Momaday, Pulitzer Prize winner

Terry Tempest Williams, Author and Guggenheim Fellow

Ted Turner, Philanthropist and conservationist


Download the Letter (PDF)


Continue reading
5101 Hits

Help Save Yellowstone's Bears

Dear friends-


As you probably know, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to strip Yellowstone’s grizzly bears of protection under the Endangered Species Act, and open the population up to hunting. The FWS states, astonishingly, that climate change does not constitute a threat now, or in the future, to grizzly bears.


I would greatly appreciate it if you would join me in sending comments to FWS opposing this delisting. Comments are most valuable when they raise questions about the substance of the agency’s proposal. It is not enough to simply state, “I oppose delisting the Yellowstone grizzlies.”


You might consider commenting about the effects of climate change on grizzly food sources, or on the foolhardiness of hunting the second-slowest reproducing land mammal in North America, or the uncertainty inherent in the vague triggers the agency has proposed to protect the bear in case of excessive mortality.


If you’d like to get some ideas, you can read my article on delisting that was published last month the Daily Beast: Grizzlies in the Crosshairs.


The agency is taking public comments on this proposal through Tuesday, May 10. Comments are being accepted electronically, Click Here


Comments are also being accepted via mail: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS–R6–ES–2016–0042, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.


Thank you for your help.


For the wild,

Doug Peacock

Continue reading
1807 Hits

Saying goodbye to my friend Jim

A eulogy to Jim Harrison on the Daily Beast.

A month ago, I drove a half-cooked leg of lamb around the foot of the Santa Rita Mountains to Jim Harrison’s place on Sonoita Creek in southeastern Arizona. The lamb was half-cooked because I’d planned to finish it off in Jim’s oven while our dogs played. Jim lived on one of southern Arizona’s last permanent streams, a ribbon of rich habitat known for its giant cottonwoods, native fishes, and vast array of birds and butterflies. It’s a place buzzing with life. We drank wine out back while the dogs splashed in the creek, backlit in the winter sunlight. I hold on to that image now: Jim, America’s greatest living writer, died there last Saturday afternoon... Read more.

Continue reading
2190 Hits

We’re Putting Grizzlies in the Crosshairs

A government proposal to remove the grizzly bear from the list of endangered species would surely condemn the species to almost certain slaughter.

The Daily Beast 3/18/2016

Here is the Daily Beast article posted last night. Note, all photos are of grizzly 399, a mother bear who a Jackson Hole outfitter has pledged to kill as soon as the states issue trophy hunting licenses.

Continue reading
895 Hits

Op-Ed: Don’t Delist Yellowstone Grizzly Bears

The animals currently face two great threats to their survival: global warming, and the U.S. government.

Outside Online March 9, 2016

Continue reading
1631 Hits

The Bison Roundup the Government Wants to Hide

Please read the excellent article in today’s New York Times op-ed on the bison slaughter in Yellowstone. This lingering outrage remains a slap in the face of all things wild and reasonable: How little things have changed for the buffalo. I went back to the articles I had written about Yellowstone bison 20 years ago and was appalled how today so much is the same—the myth of brucellosis, the holy right of cattle grazing on public land and the irrational hatred, the need to kill the dark animals of Yellowstone--the wolf, the grizzly and the bison. The cover stories in Audubon and Wild Earth were written in response to the slaughter of over a thousand bison during the winter of 1996-1997, the same year the Buffalo Field Campaign was organized. And still, the National Park Service is pimping for the well-funded livestock industry. Shame on us and, yes, we are all in this together. Support the Campaign and tell Yellowstone Park to read its own mandate. 

For the wild,   Doug Peacock

Continue reading
1113 Hits

Petitioning Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, No Trophy Hunting of endangered Grizzly Bears leaving Yellowstone Park looking for food.

Yellowstone Park continues to break its own visitation records. Millions of Americans flock to see its world famous animal spectical. One of Yellowstone's most iconic creatures, the endangered Grizzly Bear, has become a target for wandering outside the park boundary. Its seasonal food sources there are now gone as a result of climate change so it has to move to survive. Being a hungry bear is not a good enough reason for states around Yellowstone to call for a trophy hunt of this creature beloved by millions. Trophy hunting would spell disaster for the grizzly as it struggles to adapt to so many human pressures on its shrinking wilderness home. Trophy hunting should never be part of Grizzly Bear management. Please join me in demanding no tolerance for trophy hunts of the endangered Grizzly.


Sign the Petition


More News
1/14/16 - Bear necessities Yellowstone grizzlies still need federal protection - Missoula Independent


Continue reading
933 Hits

Death in Yellowstone: Living with animals who sometimes kill and eat us.

Death in Yellowstone: Living with animals who sometimes kill and eat us.

Federal officials defied their own rules in killing the mother bear behind this month’s Yellowstone tragedy. The lives of the endangered species are about to get even cheaper.


Continue reading
3973 Hits

Yellowstone grizzly bear involved in hiker's death


We need to honor this hiker and let the mother bear roam wild. The reason: Mother grizzlies never intentionally kill humans; they don't care about us, only the safety of their cubs. The hiker surprised the sow grizzly. We will never know exactly how but likely she was on a day bed and he got too close. The hiker had wounds on his arms, indicating he probably fought back, an understandable but bad reaction to a mother bear to whom resistance means her cubs are still in danger. We don't know why she made contact; close proximity possibly made worse by running. Running or trying to climb a tree after a mother grizzly with cubs is the worst choice, followed by fighting back. Apparently, the hiker's body was cached and fed upon. This most disturbing of consequences needs to seen in context of the natural world of the bear. Anything dead out there is Yellowstone this time of year is seen as a most valuable food source during the lean times of summer. Witness past bison carcasses in Hayden Valley where humans got too close, then in turn were eaten too. Once dead, a human is like any other animal. If several grizzlies are around, the most dominant animal, often a big male, will appropriate the carcass. So if a mother bear killed a human in perceived defense of her cubs, that doesn't mean she cached or fed on the body. The salient point here: This mother bear is no more likely to repeat this most natural of aggressions--kill, or consume a human--than any other mother grizzly bear in the world. The feds are more nervous about litigation and bad press than public safety. The only way to totally protect the public from wild bears and insure safety for park visitors is to kill off all the grizzlies. the federal agencies don't want that any more than we do. Help them clarify their thinking. This was a defensive natural act for a wild grizzly. It will probably never happen again to this mother bear, though of course it might--and that is the great value of wilderness and their risky animals. The hiker was experienced, knew the area well and loved to take this hike. His now missing opinion is what would have mattered to me: What would he have wanted for the fate of this bear?

Doug Peacock, 8-8-2016, Northern Yellowstone

Continue reading
4292 Hits

The real Grizzly Man

Recent piece by David Gessner.

Continue reading
1336 Hits

Interview with the Wildernist

Just skip the "how I met the griz" stuff.

Interview with Doug Peacock - The Wildernist

Continue reading
1251 Hits

Scott Carrier talks to Doug on Home of the Brave

A broad-ranging discussion about extinctions, then and now:

Home of the Brave

Continue reading
1528 Hits

Northern Tribes Support Yellowstone's Grizzlies

Take a look at this short video clip and decide for yourself: A newspaper oped writer told me that this bureaucratic action in Cody, Wyoming was proper protocol for a (WY and the Interagency Grizzly Committee) government-run meeting; I finally watched it myself and thought of the end of Easy Rider.

The Tribal Coalition (now up to 35 separate tribes) is vehemently opposed to the government's proposal to Delist the Yellowstone Grizzly (meaning to strip the bear of federal protections under the Endangered Species Act).

Disrespect or otherwise, the battle is heating up and the tribes will be heard; they are calling for the removal of Chris Servheen, the committee's boss. The words of tribal elders about the bears are eloquent and often ground-shaking. Check them out.


The extreme DISRESPECT shown to the Northern Cheyenne Nation by Wyoming State public officials,...
Continue reading
1573 Hits

Yellowstone Wilderness Under Siege

The only reason you can still find wild country in Yellowstone National Park is because people don't go there. Whether it's benign neglect, remoteness or that the park service simply forgot to build a trail into these pockets, it all adds up to tiny, precious and vulnerable wilderness.

The biggest threats today are the Loomis/Bishop Paddling Bill (see Todd Wilkinson link below) and the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team who have announced plans to intensify grizzly trapping, snaring and tranquilizing in the most "remote" parts of the Yellowstone ecosystem. This unimaginative practice constitutes unnecessary, highly invasive and unproductive science that has already resulted in many dead bears and at least one killed human. It's simplistic and yeilds no significant data, yet high-tech in that helicopters are used in these most "remote' areas of Yellowstone. When you see a flock of choppers like dragonflies hovering around some distant peak in Yellowstone, you know it's a grizzly trapping operation. And why? The Interagency Team has already unanimously voted to remove federal protections from Yellowstone's grizzlies (Delisting) and all this useless harassment of bears is only aimed at the hope the team's findings will support removing these bears from protections under the Endangered Species Act.

Please bug your favorite official/politician to stop this waste of resources and serious threat to both grizzly bears and the wild habitats they need for survival.

Doug Peacock, Ajo, AZ

See Todd Wilkinson, Paddlers should avoid misusing hero's words (Jackson Hole News)

Continue reading
2665 Hits


Through the fog of righteousness these distant images in the ditches or in the trees keep tapping me on the shoulder. War produces a few heroes but the victims, on all sides, are countless. I revisit my own war, try to write about it and fight the nearly irresistable urge to edit. I just returned from a visit to DC, to see, for the first time, the Vietnam Memorial War Wall with a close Vietnam veteran friend who keeps me honest.


Yesterday, Seymour Hersh posted his recent visited My Lai, Quang Ngai Province, Vietnam. I was nearby, very close, on March 16, 1968;…/my_lai_revisited_47_years_lat…

Directly Related: also see my favorite journalist Carl Hiaasen on Lynching:…/carl-hiaa…/article10771169.html


Photo: Doug Peacock at My Lai, Veteran's Day 2011

Continue reading
1570 Hits

American Sniper

"A Sniper's Tale," fragment from GRIZZLY YEARS: In Search of the American Wilderness, pages 84-85:


"I remembered Tet and the last time I went to Ba An. I waited on the hill above his house for the Vietcong who I had been told cut off the head of my Montagnard friend, Dinh Rua. Bato District was that kind of small war back then, so I knew. At 1715 a VC in black pj's carrying a Swedish K left the house. I hosed down, firing on semiautomatic over seven hundred meters, arching the M16 tracer rounds down from a hill, shooting off half a magazine before he disappeared.

This was early 1968, the time of the Tet Offensive, a time of random murders and blind vengeance, and I wanted to find a scapegoat sufficiently monstrous to explain the necessity of all the corpses.

The next day some villagers from Bato saw the body; I had drilled him dead-center. Later I learned the details and found I had killed the wrong man. What the hell, I told myself, he was a Vietcong and carrying a rifle; so what if he wasn't the assassin?

But something happened to me after that. It was the beginning of my end over there and I came apart rapidly. The rationalization returned to horrify me. I quit killing strangers forever. It never had been my war anyway."

Continue reading
1659 Hits
Go to top