U.S. Fish and Wildlife to review grizzly bear status

By Laura Bies

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will prepare a five-year review of grizzly bears, under a recent settlement agreement. ©Terry Tollefsbol/NPS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Center for Biological Diversity have reached an agreement last week to review the status of grizzly bears under the Endangered Species Act.

The agreement, which requires the Service to prepare a five-year review of grizzly bears populations in the contiguous United States by March 31, 2021, was in response to a claim from the Center challenging the Service’s failure to update the bear’s recovery plan.

Grizzly bears were first listed as threatened in 1975. In 2017, the Service determined that the population had recovered and removed the bears from the federal list of threatened and endangered species. That decision was immediately met with several lawsuits, which were consolidated and resulted in a court order in late 2018 requiring FWS to relist the bears. A final notice for that action was issued in August.

The last five-year review for the grizzly bear was published in 2011. The agreement to conduct a new review settles one claim in the larger lawsuit regarding updating the grizzly bear recovery plan.

The Wildlife Society supports the Service’s 2017 decision to remove the bears from the ESA list and encourages the legal system to defer to the expertise of agency biologists when considering the biological issues surrounding delisting. TWS previously submitted comments on the delisting of grizzly bears.

Read TWS’ Issue Statement on Delisting of Grizzly Bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and its comments on delisting.

Laura BiesLaura Bies is a government relations contractor and freelance writer for The Wildlife Society. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science and a law degree from George Washington University. Laura has worked with The Wildlife Society since 2005. Read more of Laura's articles.

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