(The Center Square) - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has accepted Montana's petition to delist grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. Governor Greg Gianforte petitioned the federal government to delist in December 2021.
"After decades of work, the grizzly bear has more than recovered in the NCDE, which represents a conservation success," the governor said Friday in a press release. "As part of that conservation success, the federal government has accepted our petition to delist the grizzly in the NCDE, opening the door to state management of this iconic American species."
The petition from Gianforte said NCDE grizzly bears are not only "within a distinct population" but have "far surpassed" population recovery goals. Gianforte also said that Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is capable of managing the bears.
"FWP monitors grizzly bears in the NCDE with the best available science and a team of dedicated specialists," said the governor's office. "Although grizzly bears in the lower 48 states have remained under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, much of the day-to-day management is done by FWP's specialists who work with landowners and the public to address conflicts and increase safety and education in bear country."
In 1975, grizzly bears were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The population of grizzly bears in the continental U.S. was then believed to be in the hundreds. Gianforte's office said Friday the population in just the NCDE is approximately 1100.