The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) was formed in 1983 to help ensure recovery of viable grizzly bear populations and their habitat in the lower 48 states through interagency coordination of policy, planning, management, and research. The IGBC consists of representatives from the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Geological Survey and representatives of the state wildlife agencies of Idaho, Montana, Washington and Wyoming. In the interest of international coordination and cooperation, the Canadian Wildlife Service is also represented. At the ecosystem level Native American tribes possessing grizzly habitat within the recovery areas have also been involved.
The IGBC has proven to be a successful model for agencies by working cooperatively together over the last 25 years and coordinating recovery efforts over multiple jurisdictions. The IGBC celebrated 25 years of grizzly bear recovery on June 21, 2008, at the Blackfoot Clearwater Wildlife Management Area in Seeley Lake, Montana.
When the grizzly bear was granted protection under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1975, biologists estimated that as few as 600 - 800 grizzlies survived in the lower 48 states and that the population was declining. Today, biologists estimate that number may have doubled and grizzly bears are believed to be increasing their numbers in most recovery ecosystems. One population, in the Yellowstone Ecosystem, has already exceeded recovery goals and was delisted in 2007. Legal challenges placed the Yellowstone population back on the Endangered Species list in 2009. Since then the IGBC has been working with the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team to address the legal issues raised and has recommended to the United States Fish & Wildlife Service that the Yellowstone Population once again be delisted. Grizzly bears in some ecosystems have returned to portions of their historic range that have not seen a living grizzly in generations, creating new challenges for wildlife managers.
Tammy Whittington, 2015-2017 IGBC Executive Committee Chair
Tammy Whittington was born in Denver, Colorado, and attended the Colorado School of Mines. After earning her BS in Engineering, Tammy began a career in environmental conservation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). After ten years with the FWS, she moved to a position in the National Park Service's Environmental Quality Division, building upon her career in environmental conservation, laws and policy. Currently, Tammy serves as the Associate Regional Director, Resource Stewardship and Science for the National Park Service's Intermountain Region, which oversees all natural and cultural programs for 89 national parks and a globally recognized dive program.
Tammy first began working with the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) in June of 2011, representing the National Park Service, and was instrumental in re-energizing and securing funding for the North Cascades Ecosystem Grizzly Bear Restoration Plan/EIS. As the new chair, Tammy's goal is to introduce the unique work of the IGBC to a wider audience and to continue garnering financial support for grizzly bear-related projects across the country.
The story of the IGBC is a story of exemplary cooperation and remarkable success. Prior to the establishment of the IGBC, decisions about grizzly bear recovery often faced problems when they encountered jurisdictional boundaries between federal and state agencies. Funding to implement grizzly bear recovery actions on the ground was also scarce and had to compete against other agency programs. The inclusion of high-level administrators on the IGBC Executive Committee with the authority within each agency to support decisions and funding was a significant turning point for grizzly bear recovery.