Post-delisting oversight is an issue that has the conservation community seething. For all intents and purposes, after almost 40 years of effort, the USFWS wants to trust ongoing recovery of grizzlies to the tender mercies of the predator-hostile states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

In its delisting proposal, the US Fish & Wildlife Service has largely neglected oversight. Grizzly delisting is a political hot potato and the USFWS would really like the issue to just go away; they don't want grizzlies relisted, and despite rhetoric to the contrary, it is no secret that the states of Montana, Idaho, and especially Wyoming are hostile to predators and are much more interested in appeasing the holy trinity of special interests: agriculture, hunters and outfitters, and the extractive industries.

There are many who believe that delisting grizzlies is more about the ground they walk on than about the health and recovery of the great bears themselves. It has been estimated that delisting will open up some 2 million acres to oil and gas exploration.

In their efforts to get out of the way of these special interests, the delisting proposal has few effective oversight mechanisms. Bowing to the states desires, the USFWS has created a framework that is simply inadequate

First, there are no "hard triggers" to relist grizzlies should the population collapse. While there is a purported "hard floor" of 500 bears there is no trigger at that point that requires a status review that would lead to returning the grizzly to Endangered Species Act protection. USFWS Director Dan Ashe was asked the question "If the population drops below 500 bears will that trigger a status review?" and the response was "Well, we'd certainly take a hard look at it were that to occur."

What that indicates is that the USFWS desires that any return to ESA protection be totally at its discretion, and that just isn't good enough.


Grizzlies will face threats from anti-predator special interests, both corporate and user groups. These special interests will use their influence to create anti-predator legislation and regulation and will seek to exploit areas critical to grizzly recovery. This is not crystal ball gazing, it is already happening.

Grizzlies face a threat from state agencies which have an inherent conflict of interest between managing game species and sustaining a recovered species that preys on valued game species. The two missions are in direct opposition to each other.