Wyoming Sues Feds Over Delay in Grizzly Delisting Decision

by Colter Brown

The State of Wyoming has filed a petition on behalf of Governor Mark Gordon for judicial review in the Wyoming Federal District Court that alleges the Department of 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.

Wyoming’s petition to delist was submitted in January of 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 February 6, 2023, the USFWS determined that Wyoming’s petition to delist met that standard and initiated further study. 

However, the ESA provides that the USFWS shall make a determination on a delisting petition within 12 months of its receipt, regardless of when the initial finding is published. Thus, the USFWS has delayed taking final action on Wyoming’s petition to delist. 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.

Governor Gordon stated, “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. 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.


Gov. Mark Gordon

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