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Bear status reviewed

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Published on Jan. 4, 2020

Sublette County – While the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) did not admit any wrongdoing by not updating its five-year grizzly bear status review since 2011, the agency agreed to complete one by March 31, 2021.

            The negotiated settlement between the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and federal attorneys fulfills the first claim in the CBD’s complaint filed June 27 against the Department of the Interior and FWS.

            The civil suit was filed in Montana’s U.S. District Court in Missoula, Mont., where Judge Dana Christensen signed the order on Dec. 9. The lack of a timely five-year review – since 2011 – of all grizzlies protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was one of four claims listed in the complaint. 

            The other claims argue FWS has “failed to update or amend its outdated grizzly bear recovery plan” in violation of the ESA, “failed to evaluate or pursue further grizzly bear recovery” in violation of the ESA and “unreasonably denied the CBD’s petition for an updated and amended grizzly bear recovery plan” in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act.

            CBD Senior Attorney Andrea Santarsiere of Idaho, who helped negotiate the first claim’s settlement, pointed out Dec. 10 that the FWS recovery plan “is now more than 25 years old and does not reflect current science.”

            In the FWS’s eight-year-old status review, she said FWS then acknowledged the 1993 recovery plan no longer reflected best available science and needed to be updated to consider additional recovery areas.

            Santarsiere said the goal is to force FWS to update the outdated plan and evaluate the need to pursue grizzly bear recovery in additional areas where suitable habitat exists.

            The negotiated settlement agreed FWS would complete the status review of all grizzly bear populations listed under the ESA at the time of this review.

            Judge Christensen’s Dec. 9 order accepts the settlement and dismisses the first claim for relief. The remainder of the case now proceeds in Missoula’s U.S. District Courtroom with a schedule going well into 2020.

            Wyoming, Idaho, Wyoming Stock Growers Association and Wyoming and Utah Farm Bureau Federations are also filed as friends of the court on behalf of the federal government.

Other bear news

            Federal and states’ appeals of Judge Dana Christensen’s 2018 relisting of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly bear is now completed by all parties for the ninth District Courts of Appeals’ decision.

            Center for Biological Diversity had challenged the GYE grizzlies’ delisting from the Endangered Species Act.

            It is unknown by the parties involved if a panel of appellate judges will request oral arguments or issue a decision without another court hearing.

Joy Ufford is a corresponding writer for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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