USFWS Reiterates Threatened Status For Grizzly Bears In Lower 48

Apr 1, 2021

Credit Carol S. Bock

Grizzly bears are listed as threatened underneath the Endangered Species Act. This has been under court scrutiny many times.

At one point, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) tried to delist the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem bear but a judge ordered them back on the threatened list.

Under the Endangered Species Act, the agency is required to review the status of the species every five years.

Hilary Cooley, the grizzly bear recovery coordinator for USFWS, said the biological assessment looked at the status of grizzly bears in six recovery zones in the lower 48 states.

"The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the northern Continental Divide, are both in the high viability category," said Cooley. "Then we have a couple smaller populations, the Cabinet-Yaak and the Selkirk. Those are in the low and moderate categories. And then we have two recovery zones where there are no bears."

Because there is only one listed entity that is the lower 48 grizzly bear, the overall recommendation is that the bear is threatened.

"We do recognize that we have two populations that are doing well and have met recovery criteria," said Cooley. "And there are impacts to ranchers, people that live there in these communities that are newly experiencing bears, and it's challenging."

She said the agency is dedicated to minimizing those impacts. The next steps are on pause, as the new administration reviews the status of the grizzly bear.