Elk NetworkIdaho Intends to Sue Feds over Grizzly Management

General | May 18, 2023

Below is a news release from the Idaho Governor’s Office. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation maintains that state agencies should manage grizzly bears just as they manage elk, black bears, deer, mountain lions and other wildlife.

The State of Idaho sent notice of its intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) over the Biden Administration’s failure to remove grizzly bears from the endangered species list.

“Idaho’s entire congressional delegation and the State of Idaho are lockstep in efforts to delist grizzly bears. Idaho has continually demonstrated leadership in species management, and we have never hesitated to push back on the federal government’s overreaching actions that greatly impact a variety of activities on the ground in our state,” Governor Brad Little said.

“Politicians in Washington continue to use outdated endangered species protections to encroach on state sovereignty. In their desire to stop Idahoans from hunting or managing our own destiny, they pretend Idaho cannot handle the management of species. Our state intends to conserve our grizzly populations while balancing the need for limiting dangerous human-bear interactions. This issue, like most, belongs in the hands of the state, not the federal government,” Attorney General Raúl Labrador said.

Over one year ago, Idaho petitioned for delisting the “lower-48” grizzly bear because it does not qualify as a “species” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Under the ESA, the USFWS was required to make a 90-day finding by June 7, 2022, but failed to do so. In February of 2023, Governor Little sent a letter to USFWS demanding the agency uphold the law and make a required finding on the State of Idaho’s petition to remove grizzly bears from the endangered species list. The agency responded with a decision, and the State of Idaho has been working on its appeal of the decision. The appeal was filed today.

“The State of Idaho has been and continues to be 100-percent committed to the conservation of grizzly bears, as the actions of local communities, landowners, recreationists and state government have demonstrated. This action is in response to a flawed ESA listing almost 50 years ago that has now become a barrier to the delisting of recovered populations,” Idaho Department of Fish and Game Director Jim Fredericks said.

“What is needed is a commonsense approach to delisting healthy populations of grizzly bears where they exist and continue working with rural communities to reduce human-bear interactions as bear populations increase elsewhere. Unfortunately, the State of Idaho must turn to the judiciary to request relief from the tangled web of ESA case law to work to achieve a commonsense solution,” Governor’s Office of Species Conservation Administrator Mike Edmondson said.

The State of Idaho’s notice states, in part, “Idaho does not send this notice lightly. We prefer to invest the resources of federal and state conservation agencies on actual conservation, rather than on lawsuits. However, the current listed entity does not meet the ESA definition of ‘species,’ and we have robust grizzly bear populations that continue to cause conflict in our rural communities and injure Idaho’s sovereign interests in managing our resident wildlife and conservation resources.”

(Photo source: Idaho Fish and Game)