February 2023 Edition | Volume 77, Issue 2
Published since 1946
USFWS Agrees to Consider Delisting Grizzly Bears in the Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide Ecosystems
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced on February 3 that petitions submitted by the states of Montana and Wyoming provide sufficient scientific and commercial information to warrant a status review for grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) and Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. The review could result in a decision to propose removing one or both populations from the list of Threatened Species under the Endangered Species Act. Although the FWS rejected a separate delisting petition from Idaho, a portion of that state is included in the GYE and presumably would be included if that population is delisted. Proponents of delisting praised the FWS decision as a step toward reestablishing state management and potential hunting seasons. Opponents to delisting expressed concerns about state management, particularly given recent changes in state laws designed to reduce wolf populations. However, any change in status will take several years to play out given the timelines required to complete the status review, followed by a lengthy rule-making process if a decision to delist is made, not to mention litigation. Given that two prior attempts to delist grizzly bears in the GYE were litigated and overturned by federal courts, legal action can be expected again.