USFWS Recommends Continued Protections for Grizzly Bears

Following a recent review of the conservation status of grizzly bears in the continental United States, the US Fish and Wildlife Service recommended in March that the bears continue to be listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The USFWS evaluated current conditions in the six ecosystems designated as grizzly bear recovery zones in Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Wyoming. It determined that while grizzlies are not currently in danger of extinction (which would warrant an “endangered” designation under the ESA), there is enough uncertainty around future conservation efforts that the bears remain likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future (and thus warrant a designation of “threatened”).

photo by BlueBarronPhoto
photo by BlueBarronPhoto

The recommendation applies to the grizzly bear population of the contiguous United States as a whole, not to individual ecosystems. Practically, this means that the agency could still attempt to remove ESA protections from bears in one or more of the individual recovery areas (as it has twice tried to do with the Yellowstone population), even as the rest of the population remains protected.

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