Idaho to sue federal government over grizzly bears
On Thursday, Idaho Gov. Brad Little announced plans to sue the federal government over the status of grizzly bears. The state wants the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to remove them from the endangered species list, arguing that the protections are based on an area defined in 1975, according to The Lewiston Tribune.
Idaho isn’t alone in its pursuit to delist grizzlies. Last March, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho all petitioned FWS to remove federal protections in and around Yellowstone and Glacier national parks where there are about 1,000 grizzlies each. While Idaho itself has only a few of the apex animals despite prime grizzly habitat in the Bitterroot Ecosystem Recovery Area, the state is calling for the end to all “grizzly bear protections across the country,” saying the federal government “erred when the great bears were first granted Endangered Species Act protections in 1975.” According to the petition, much of their historic range is too developed to support the animals, which led to a 1993 grizzly bear recovery plan that called for “bears to be delisted based on numbers in certain recovery areas” (i.e. Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem).
However, grizzly bears still retain full federal protections after a 2020 court ruling.
In the letter sent to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Martha Williams, director of FWS, Little said the agency failed to act on the petition within the required 90 days.
“However, we cannot continue to accept vague excuses and inexplicable delays by USFWS representatives concerning grizzly bear delisting,” Little wrote. “The current listed entity does not meet the definition of ‘species’ under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), we have robust grizzly bear populations that continue to cause conflict in our rural communities, and we have addressed the concerns of prior judicial reviews.”
Idaho alleges that there are about 60,000 grizzly bears in both Canada and Alaska, which means the animals shouldn’t be considered endangered, according to The Lewiston Tribune.
Little plans to file the lawsuit after 60 days unless he receives a response regarding the petition before that time limit expires.
Stay tuned to GOHUNT for further updates.