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SCI Works on Many Fronts to Delist Grizzly Bears

SCI Works on Many Fronts to Delist Grizzly Bears A recovered wildlife population does not belong on the endangered or threatened species lists. Unfortunately, once a species is placed on an Endangered Species Act (ESA) list, it has become almost impossible to remove that species from federal protection. That’s the reason that the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) population of grizzly bears remains on the threatened species list, despite two attempts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to delist the population. SCI is working on multiple fronts to see that this recovered population of grizzlies is removed from federal protection and is placed back under state management authority. And . . . we need your help.

In the mid-2000s when the FWS first delisted the GYE grizzly population, SCI went to federal court to defend the decision. Despite our best efforts, the GYE grizzlies were relisted as threatened. After almost a decade, the FWS issued a new rule to delist the population – and once again, anti-hunting groups sued. SCI went back to court, joining the FWS, the states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, and other hunting groups to defend the delisting. Once again, a federal district court invalidated the delisting. But the story doesn’t end there. SCI, the FWS, the states and the other hunting groups filed an appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The court is in the process of setting a briefing schedule for the numerous parties involved in the appeal.

But litigation isn’t the only strategy we are pursuing to see the GYE grizzlies come off the threatened species list. We are working to support regulations that would make it more difficult for courts to interfere with FWS delisting decisions. For example, when the FWS proposed revisions to the regulations they use to administer listings under the ESA, SCI submitted comments that support changes designed to prevent courts from making it more difficult for the FWS to delist a species than list it.

We are also working on the legislative front. SCI has announced its support for bills introduced in the U.S. House and Senate respectively by Congressman Liz Cheney and Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming, each entitled the Grizzly Bear State Management Act. If passed, the law would direct the FWS to reissue the GYE grizzly bear delisting rule. And that’s where we need your help.

The Grizzly Bear State Management Act is likely to be one of the bills that SCI members will be bringing to the attention of their members of Congress during this year’s SCI Lobby Day in Washington, D.C. SCI needs you to meet with your Representatives and Senators and tell them the grizzly bear story. We need you to come to Washington and explain how grizzlies are recovered and how important it is for recovered species to be returned to state management. You will soon be receiving information about Lobby Day. Make this year your year to participate and help us get recovered grizzlies off the threatened species list.