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Wyoming sues Department of Interior over deadline for delisting grizzly population

A grizzly bear in Northwest Wyoming near Grand Teton National Park. (National Park Service/C.J. Adams)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The State of Wyoming has filed a petition on behalf of Gov. Mark Gordon for judicial review in the Wyoming Federal District Court that alleges the Department of the Interior failed to meet the 12-month deadline for determining Wyoming’s petition to delist the grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

The petition seeks to remedy the DOI’s inaction, according to a press release from the Governor’s Office.

Per the release, Wyoming’s petition to delist was submitted in January 2022 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, requesting the agency to delist the grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. This request came after the population was determined to be sufficiently recovered in the region under the Endangered Species Act. The USFWS had to make an initial finding on whether the petition contained substantial scientific or commercial information showing that the petitioned action may be warranted. On Feb. 6, the USFWS determined that Wyoming’s petition to delist met that standard and initiated further study.


However, the ESA provided that the USFWS shall make a determination on a delisting petition within 12 months of its receipt, regardless of when the initial finding was published. Thus, the USFWS has delayed taking final action on Wyoming’s petition to delist, the release states. Accordingly, in the petition for judicial review, Wyoming asks the court to order the DOI to issue a final determination on Wyoming’s petition to delist.

“Wyoming’s 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 the release. “The Fish and Wildlife Service has missed the required 12-month determination deadline, and it’s time for the agency to be held accountable.”

The State of Wyoming remains committed to implementing a sustainable conservation strategy for the grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which continues to thrive since the species was listed under the ESA in 1975, the release states.