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Federal government to study removing grizzly bears from Endangered Species Act in Montana

USFWS completes initial review of three petitions to remove grizzly bears from the Endangered Species Act
Advisory council questions effectiveness of grizzly bear hunt in Yellowstone states
Posted at 9:05 AM, Feb 03, 2023

DENVER – The federal government plans to look at removing grizzly bears from the list of endangered and threatened wildlife in Montana.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced Friday that the agency has completed an initial review of three petitions filed to remove grizzly bears from the Endangered Species Act in certain areas.

"The Service finds two of these petitions present substantial information 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,” a news release states.

GFX Grizzly Delist 11.png

The USFWS is now beginning what is being called a “comprehensive status review of the grizzly bear” in Montana which is expected to take approximately 12 months.

U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) released a statement following the announcement:

“Defending Montana’s outdoor heritage and wildlife is critically important to our way of life – and that starts with following the best available science. After decades of collaborative work between federal, state, local, and Tribal groups, we’ve seen grizzly bears in Montana come back from the brink of extinction, and that’s something to celebrate. FWS took a step in the right direction today, which is a testament to the strength of grizzly populations in Montana. Now state government needs to develop science-based management plans to ensure success, and I’ll hold the Biden Administration’s feet to the fire to provide support.”

U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) released a statement praising the USFWS announcement:

“This is great news for Montana. The science is clear—it’s time to delist the grizzly bear. I’m glad to see Fish and Wildlife Service listen to science, Montanans, and Governor Gianforte to move forward with the process to delist the grizzly bear in the Northern Continental Divide and Greater Yellowstone Ecosystems."

Sen. Daines also noted that he has been “pushing” for the delisting of grizzly bears in Montana and that Gov. Greg Gianforte filed a petition in December 2021.

Gov. Gianforte says he "welcomed" the decision by the USFWS to accept the state's petition to delist grizzly bears in the NCDE.

“After decades of work, the grizzly bear has more than recovered in the NCDE, which represents a conservation success,” Gov. Gianforte said. “As part of that conservation success, the federal government has accepted our petition to delist the grizzly in the NCDE, opening the door to state management of this iconic American species.”

Montana Senate President Jason Ellsworth, R-Hamilton, released the following statement in response to the USFWS acceptance of Montana’s petition to delist grizzly bears from the Endangered Species Act in the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide Ecosystems:

“Grizzly bear recovery has been a conservation success in the areas surrounding Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. As we’ve been advocating in the Legislature for years, it’s time to recognize this conservation win, remove grizzly bears from endangered listing in those ecosystems, and return management of the bears to the state of Montana. I’m glad to see this step in the right direction from the federal government, now they need to follow through.” 

The USFWS states the study will be “based on the best available scientific and commercial data available” and “if those findings result in proposing one or more DPSs for delisting, the Service will consider those in the context of the ongoing recovery for the rest of the population in the larger listed entity.”

The agency notes "the public can play an essential role by submitting relevant information, particularly new scientific and commercial data published since the 2021 5-year status review. This information will inform the in-depth status review." Information can be submitted at Docket Number: FWS-R6-ES-2022-0150, beginning Feb. 6, 2023.

The 90-day finding and petition review forms associated with this announcement are now available for public inspection. Visit the Service online to learn more about grizzly bears and the ESA petition process. Additional questions and answers can also be found on our website: Q&As: 90-day finding on grizzly bear petitions.