GILLETTE, Wyo — A petition filed in federal court this week by the state alleges the federal government failed to make its determination regarding efforts to remove Yellowstone grizzly bears from the Endangered Species Act on time.
The petition, filed on behalf of Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon against the U.S. Department of the Interior, seeks to take the DOI’s decision-making authority on whether to delist the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear population and place it within the Wyoming Federal District Court.
According to the governor’s office, the courts should be given authority to make a final determination on delisting GYE grizzly bears because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to abide by the rules set forth in the ESA.
The State of Wyoming filed a petition to delist GYE grizzly bears in January 2022. Under the ESA, the USFWS has 12 months to make a final determination on a delisting petition from the date they receive it, per the governor’s office.
On Feb. 6, 2023, the USFWS published an initial finding regarding Wyoming’s petition that showed it contained substantial scientific or commercial information showing that the petitioned action may be warranted. The service then initiated further study but failed to make a final determination as required, the governor’s office says.
“Wyoming grizzly bear numbers have not only greatly increased but have exceeded population goals for years, and it’s time for the delisting process to move forward,” Gordon said in a May 31 release. “The (USFWS) has missed the required 12-month determination deadline, and it’s time for the agency to be held accountable.”