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  • Writer's pictureBecky Faulks

BREAKING NEWS: Grizzly Bears to be Reintroduced in Idaho and Montana by 2026

Plans to bring the bears back into the Bitterroot ecosystem are moving forward after 20 years of stalling


A notice by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has announced plans to reintroduce grizzly bears after a previous eradication scheme. The bears are now considered a threatened species and a recovery scheme has been launched. The notice stated:


‘We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended, to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of restoring the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) to the Bitterroot Ecosystem (BE), a portion of the species' historical range, in Montana and Idaho.’


The USFWS adds that it will welcome input from other Federal and State agencies, tribes, nongovernmental organizations, private-sector businesses, and members of the public on how best to initiate the scheme.





According to the National Park Service (NPS), four populations of grizzly bear were listed as ‘threatened’ under the authority of the Endangered Species Act in 1975. This was partly because the species had been reduced to only 2% of its former range south of Canada, and the most isolated of these populations was in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem on the Idaho/Montana border, where only 136 bears were thought to live. To help them become self-sufficient again, grizzly hunting seasons (outside the national park) were banned, a recovery area was established, and a Grizzly Bear Study Team and an Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee were established to coordinate research and improve communication among managers.


The excitement over the recent statement by the USFWS comes from the fact that, despite the plans being 20 years in the making, nothing has been done about them until now. However, grizzly bears are beginning to move back into the Bitterroots on their own, and after a lawsuit by the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, a federal district court ordered the USFWS to move forward with the plans after more than two decades of stalling.

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