Montana legislators, senators, governor welcome grizzly delisting progress
News from Montana Legislature, U.S. Senate, Governor Gianforte
HELENA — Montana Senate President Jason Ellsworth, R-Hamilton, released the following statement in response to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s acceptance of Montana’s petition to delist grizzly bears from the Endangered Species Act in the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide Ecosystems:
“Grizzly bear recovery has been a conservation success in the areas surrounding Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. As we’ve been advocating in the Legislature for years, it’s time to recognize this conservation win, remove grizzly bears from endangered listing in those ecosystems, and return management of the bears to the state of Montana. I’m glad to see this step in the right direction from the federal government, now they need to follow through.”
Following the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announcement of a 12-month study period on delisting grizzly bears in Montana, United States Senator Jon Tester issued the following statement:
“Defending Montana’s outdoor heritage and wildlife is critically important to our way of life – and that starts with following the best available science. After decades of collaborative work between federal, state, local, and Tribal groups, we’ve seen grizzly bears in Montana come back from the brink of extinction, and that’s something to celebrate. FWS took a step in the right direction today, which is a testament to the strength of grizzly populations in Montana. Now state government needs to develop science-based management plans to ensure success, and I’ll hold the Biden Administration’s feet to the fire to provide support.”
“This is great news for Montana. The science is clear—it’s time to delist the grizzly bear. I’m glad to see Fish and Wildlife Service listen to science, Montanans, and Governor Gianforte to move forward with the process to delist the grizzly bear in the Northern Continental Divide and Greater Yellowstone Ecosystems,” said U.S. Senator Steve Daines said.
In December 2021, Gov. Gianforte petitioned the federal government to delist the grizzly bear in the NCDE.
The petition outlined that NCDE grizzly bears are within a distinct population, have far surpassed population recovery goals, and that Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has the structure in place to successfully take over full management of this iconic native species.
Beyond seeking to delist grizzly bears in the NCDE, the petition also asks the FWS to designate the NCDE bears as a distinct population segment.
Grizzly bears were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1975. At the time, the population of grizzly bears in the lower 48 states was estimated to be in the hundreds. Today the bear population in the NCDE alone is estimated at approximately 1,100.
Upon delisting, state laws and administrative rules, already in place, become the primary regulatory and legal mechanisms guiding management.