Science & Technology



Idaho grizzly bears near Yellowstone could lose endangered species protections

Nicole Blanchard, Idaho Statesman on

Published in Science & Technology News

BOISE, Idaho — One day after Idaho officials threatened to sue the federal government for failing to respond to petitions to remove grizzly bears from Endangered Species Act protections, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it will move forward with reconsidering the bears’ position — though it won’t consider Idaho’s argument.

Fish and Wildlife on Friday issued findings on petitions from Wyoming, Montana and Idaho that sought to delist grizzlies. Idaho’s petition was the broadest, asking officials to remove protections for all grizzly bears in the contiguous United States. Wyoming and Montana petitioned to delist bears in the Northern Continental Divide and Greater Yellowstone ecosystems.

Federal officials said the claims in Idaho’s petition weren’t substantial enough to prompt further review, but Wyoming and Montana’s were sufficient to initiate a status review of grizzlies in the two ecosystems.

The status review could be the first step toward removing grizzlies from Endangered Species Act protections, which would likely lead to a grizzly hunting season in Idaho. Already the decision has prompted an outcry from conservation groups, who say it could threaten the bears’ recovery, and from Idaho politicians who blasted the dismissal of Idaho’s petition.

Delisting would affect some Idaho grizzlies

The Fish and Wildlife Service decision comes 11 months after Idaho’s petition was filed and more than a year after Montana and Wyoming’s petitions.


On Thursday, Idaho Gov. Brad Little’s office announced its intent to sue the federal government if officials did not respond to the petition by early April. Little’s office said federal officials disregarded the original 90-day deadline to respond when the petitions were filed.

In a statement provided to the Idaho Statesman via email, Little said his office will “continue to push back against the federal government” and called the decision an example of federal overreach.

“The response is seven months late, and it took a threat of legal action from the state of Idaho to simply receive a response,” Little said.

The federal agency’s findings kick off a 12-month review on the bears’ status in the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide ecosystems.


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