Idaho pushes for settlement with feds on grizzly delisting

Friday February 23, 2024


Boise, Idaho – The State of Idaho is seeking court approval of a proposed settlement that requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to issue a final rule by Jan. 1, 2026, to revise or remove the current listing of “lower 48” grizzly bears as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

“Idaho and neighboring states have worked for more than 40 years in a broad-based effort to support and sustain healthy and reasonable grizzly populations in our states, but legal and bureaucratic gridlock has kept robust populations of grizzly bears unnecessarily under ESA protection. The settlement provides a path to escape regulations that are not necessary in Idaho,” Governor Brad Little said.

“This settlement provides both a deadline and legal pathway for Idaho to escape burdensome ESA regulations that are simply unnecessary for grizzly bear population success in our state,” said Attorney General Labrador. “Idaho has shown that it’s quite capable of managing natural resources and wildlife populations without overreaching federal involvement.”

The settlement stems from litigation over Idaho’s petition for grizzly bear delisting that was submitted in March 2022 and denied by the Fish and Wildlife Service in February 2023.

Because of federal procedural requirements for making changes to the ESA list, the proposed settlement does not guarantee delisting of all grizzly bears. However, the January 2026 deadline makes delisting grizzly bears in Idaho possible by ending the flawed premise of the 1975 listing.

Grizzly bears are a subspecies of brown bear found in Alaska and Canada, where they have never been listed as threatened or endangered. The total grizzly bear population is estimated at over 60,000 bears, with about 2,000 living in the lower 48 in Idaho, Washington, Wyoming, and Montana, and under ESA protection.

The settlement also upholds Idaho’s current practice of seeking Fish and Wildlife Service concurrence before lethally removing nuisance grizzly bears that are safety risks but that do not pose immediate threats.

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