Last week, Idaho’s Congressional delegation, which includes senators Mike Crapo, Jim Risch as well as representatives Mike Simpson and Russ Fulcher, demanded a response to the state’s grizzly bear delisting petition.  In Thursday’s letter, to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams, the lawmakers said:


“Idahoans have a unique interest in the delisting of the grizzly bear due to a recent and significant increase in depredation events within the state.  Over the past five years, Idaho’s Boundary and Bonner Counties annually experienced two to three grizzly bear depredation events.  This year that number was 21.


“As grizzly bear populations continue to meet and exceed recovery targets, human-bear interactions will also increase,” the letter continued. “Pending resolution of Idaho’s petition to delist the grizzly bear population in the lower 48 states, we request that USFWS devote more of the resources that are currently allocated to preventing human-bear interactions on the regional scale to Idaho.”


The grizzly bear was placed on the threatened species list in 1975.  In 2017, the USFWS removed the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem population of the grizzly bear from the endangered species list, citing a significant increase in bear populations and a doubling of their range land.  In September 2018, a federal judge in Montana ruled to put the grizzly bear back on the endangered species list.  The state of Wyoming appealed the decision, and in July 2020 a federal appeals court in San Francisco upheld the continued protections for the grizzly bear.


The State of Idaho submitted a petition to the USFWS on March 9, 2022 to delist the grizzly bear in the “Lower 48” United States.  The agency, the delegation noted, has failed to review the petition within the 90-day timeframe required by the Endangered Species Act and has still not responded to Idaho’s petition.


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