Idaho Republicans In Congress Renew Calls To Delist Grizzlies As Endangered Species

The congressional delegation from Idaho has re-initiated calls for the removal of grizzly bears from the list of threatened and endangered species, citing a rise in bear attacks on livestock as evidence that the bear population has recovered.

All Republican U.S. Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, as well as Representatives Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson, wrote Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Martha Williams last week. According to the letter, the Fish and Wildlife Service has not responded to a March petition that Idaho Governor Brad Little, along with the governors of Montana and Wyoming, co-signed calling for the delisting of grizzlies.

The lawmakers alleged that the agency “exacerbated serious issues currently experienced in Idaho’s bear country” by failing to respond to the petition within the allotted 90 days.

In the letter, it was mentioned that grizzly bear depredation incidents have recently increased in Idaho’s two northernmost counties, Boundary and Bonner, which are a part of the Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak ecosystems, both of which are protected.

Lawmakers highlighted information from a recent report from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game that listed 21 instances of grizzly bear depredation between April and September. Four beehives, two-grain containers, and cattle were the targets of fifteen of the thefts. According to the government, there were two depredations on average every year during the previous five.

According to Fish and Game, two grizzly bears were seized and killed in connection with the depredations this year.

The members of Congress noted that greater funding for grizzly bear management in Idaho is needed since “human-bear interactions will also rise as grizzly bear populations continue to reach and surpass recovery targets.”

In the contiguous United States, grizzlies were initially declared a threatened species in 1975 when there were only a few hundred left. State wildlife officials and conservationists have been at odds over whether the bears should continue to be protected since the early 2000s, and the Greater Yellowstone grizzly population has been delisted and relisted numerous times. The Yellowstone bears, which are found in Montana, Wyoming, and eastern Idaho, were most recently delisted in 2017 and then relisted in 2018.

In the Cabinet-Yaak habitat, which includes portions of North Idaho and Montana, there are still roughly 60 bears, and there are at least 44 bears in the Selkirk environment, which includes portions of North Idaho, northeast Washington, and British Columbia.

While conservation organizations have opposed delisting and maintained that the bears need ongoing protection to establish a healthy population, the government has stated that grizzly populations appear to be stable or rising throughout the contiguous U.S.


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