Washington, D.C.–U.S. Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and U.S. Representative Russ Fulcher (all R-Idaho) are condemning the decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to keep Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for Idaho’s grizzly bears.
“Idaho’s wildlife is best managed through collaborative efforts among federal, state and tribal entities,” said Crapo. “Our Delegation has long-advocated for grizzly bear management to be returned to the state and backed by science and common sense. Today’s announcement wrongfully rejects great triumph of local conservation efforts, and erodes public trust of the ESA. This is an unacceptable decision by the USFWS and continues a pattern of federal overreach by the Biden Administration.”
“Given more and more grizzly bear and human encounters in Idaho, it is abundantly clear our state’s grizzly bear population has recovered,” said Risch. “After blatantly ignoring the 90-day statutory requirement to respond to Idaho’s delisting position, the Biden administration’s determination to ignore the recovery targets met by grizzly bear populations across the country is beyond disappointing. Idaho has long stood as a leader in species conservation, and I will continue to fight to return management of grizzly bears and other species back to the state where it belongs.”
“State governments are best equipped to understand the unique ecological and economic factors that impact wildlife populations in their regions,” said Fulcher. “Their local expertise and knowledge allows us to make informed decisions about species management practices. The decision by the US Fish and Wildlife to ignore this expertise in regards to the grizzly bear is unacceptable and disregards the great progress achieved by Idaho in restoring the grizzly population.”
Thursday, the USFWS announced it would move forward with the review process following petitions from Montana and Wyoming indicating the grizzly bear in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) may qualify as their own distinct population segment and may warrant removal from the list of endangered and threatened wildlife. Idaho’s petition, however, was denied.
“We stand by Governor Little and Idaho’s wildlife managers,” the Members said. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s failure to provide answers, transparency and science-backed reasoning for their decision is unacceptable.”
Idaho’s Delegation sent a letter to USFWS Director Martha Williams in November 2022 demanding a response to Idaho’s grizzly bear delisting petition. The agency failed to review the petition within the 90-day timeframe required by the ESA and did not responded to the Delegation’s letter. Similarly, the Delegation sent a letter in 2021 to the U.S. Department of the Interior to heed a USFWS study demonstrating full recovery of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear populations and return species management to the states.
Senators Crapo and Risch introduced the Grizzly Bear State Management Act in the 117th Congress, and Representative Fulcher also co-sponsored legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to remove the Yellowstone Grizzly from the Endangered Species List.