Endangered Species List

Acting Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt said Wednesday that his agency wants to remove the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Images

Republican Sen. Jim Risch is co-sponsoring the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. In a press release, Risch says the flexibility and control the measure would give states – including Idaho – will save time and money.

Terrie Williams is the author of The Odyssey of KP2: An Orphan Seal, a Marine Biologist, and the Fight to Save a Species. The book, which was Boise State’s Campus Read in the 2014/2015 academic year, tells the story of a monk seal pup who was abandoned on a sandy Hawaiian beach in 2008, and who went on to capture the hearts of locals and tourists alike. When local fishermen objected to the seal’s presence on the beach, officials made an unprecedented decision to move him across the ocean to the lab of Ms. Williams, a marine biologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Ian Robertson / Boise State University

A small, flowering plant that grows only in southwest Idaho is about to go back on the Endangered Species List. Slickspot Peppergrass has been there before, in 2009, but its status as “threatened” was challenged by Governor Butch Otter.

After years of legal wrangling, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to put it back on the list next month.

Slickspot Peppergrass is a hairy green plant with white flowers, and is found in just a few areas of southwest Idaho.

Charles Peterson / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal wildlife officials plan to take the grizzly bear off the Endangered Species List in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. If the proposal goes through, Idaho will take over management of the bear within the state’s borders. 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe says the decision to take the iconic predator off the list comes after decades of collaboration. 

Jim Jacobson

Scientists are paying close attention to the ways in which climate change may be impacting wildlife. In Idaho, one of the mammals dealing with the effects of changing conditions are American pikas. 

Pikas are related to rabbits and live in Rocky Mountains states. The curious animals, which have a distinctive call, can be spotted in places like the Sawtooths. They also hang out in the recesses of the Craters of the Moon National Monument.

Well, for now at least.

Alan Krakauer / Flickr Creative Commons

Early Tuesday morning Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced on Twitter the decision of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service not to list the greater sage grouse as endangered. This follows years of hard work, cooperation and collaborative planning among stakeholders in what is being touted as the largest conservation effort in U.S. history. 

Stakeholders are already reacting to the decision. Below are comments from some of those individuals and groups.

The U.S. Interior Department says the greater sage grouse does not need federal protections across its 11-state Western range after some limits were put on energy development and other activities.

Tuesday's announcement signals that the Obama administration believes it has struck a balance to save the widespread, ground-dwelling birds from extinction without crippling the West's economy.

Julie Rose

Alarm bells echoed across the West in 2010 when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service warned that the greater sage grouse could be put on the Endangered Species List. The end of this month is the deadline for a final decision. In the interim, there has been an enormous amount of work done to protect the bird – enough to suggest a threat is sometimes big enough to get the job done.

Could this have been the intent all along? To make the threat big enough so that an actual listing might be avoided?

Grace Hood

The federal government will decide whether or not to list the greater sage grouse on the Endangered Species List later this month. Another sage grouse species, the Gunnison sage grouse, has been on that list since last November. The government followed a distinct and separate process for the Gunnison grouse, classifying it as “threatened”.

Alan Krakauer / Flickr

Idaho Fish and Game says it will allow hunters to shoot sage grouse next month, despite a multi-state effort to boost the bird’s numbers.

Dan Dzurisin / Flickr Creative Commons

WildEarth Guardians accuses the Bureau of Land Management in Idaho of removing nearly 4 million acres from a previous plan to protect sage grouse habitat, and not being transparent about it. The environmental and wildlife advocacy group wants to see the threatened bird listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Washington Fish and Game

Federal wildlife officials have rejected a petition from advocates who sought to reclassify gray wolves as a threatened species in most of the U.S.

Gray wolves across most of the Lower 48 are classified as endangered, which is more protective than a threatened designation. Advocates hoped a change to threatened would pre-empt intervention from members of Congress who want to lift federal protections altogether.

Prairie Dog, wildlife
Matthew Paulson / Flickr Creative Commons

Government attorneys are defending federal protections for Utah prairie dogs after 10 states stepped into the case in favor of a ruling that animal activists say could undermine the Endangered Species Act.

Federal lawyers are asking an appeals court to overturn an unusual ruling striking down prairie dog protections near the Utah town of Cedar City.

Residents say the animals are taking over their town, though animal activists countered Thursday that those concerns are overblown.

Grizzly, wildlife, grizzlies, endangered species list
Jason Bechtel / Flickr Creative Commons

Twenty-four grizzly bears have been captured so far this year in and around Yellowstone National Park as wildlife managers start another season of research toward a potential lifting of federal protections.

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team captured the grizzlies in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and outside the parks in Montana and Wyoming.

Teams are now starting to trap grizzlies in eastern Idaho.

The estimated grizzly population in the 19,000-square-mile Yellowstone ecosystem is 757 bears.

Jerry McFarland / Flickr

Federal authorities have released their final recovery plan for Snake River sockeye salmon, a species that teetered on the brink of extinction in the early 1990s.

Authorities say the plan released Monday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will create a self-sustaining population of sockeye over the next 50 to 100 years.

The run was listed as endangered in 1991, kicking off a hatchery program that at first had only a handful of returning fish to propagate the species.

Bob / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho officials have released a draft management plan to bolster a struggling species once considered the most abundant upland game bird in the Pacific Northwest.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game says the Columbian sharp-tailed grouse occupies less than 5 percent of its historic range in the U.S., with 60 percent of the remaining population in Idaho.

The agency also filed a request with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to add 20,000 acres to a program that in Idaho pays farmers to convert fields into sharp-tailed grouse habitat.

NOAA Fisheries West Coast / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal officials are releasing a plan to recover struggling bull trout populations in five Western states with the goal of lifting Endangered Species Act protections.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the draft plan for six recovery units spread over Idaho, western Montana, Washington, Oregon and a tiny portion of northern Nevada will be released Thursday.

Bull trout require pristine conditions and were listed as threatened in the Lower 48 states in 1999.

James M. / Flickr Creative Commons

Nine states are stepping into a lawsuit over the Utah prairie dog in favor of a ruling that animal activists say threatens to undermine the Endangered Species Act.

The attorneys general asked an appeals court on Thursday to uphold a ruling striking down federal protections for the Utah prairie dog on private property. They argue states should manage animals that live only within their borders.

Gerrit Vyn / Sage Brush Sea

A new documentary is airing on Idaho Public Television Friday. The "Sage Brush Sea" was filmed at different locations across the 11-state sage brush ecosystem, including in Idaho. The producers of the film are trying to raise the profile of this landscape, and the struggling sage grouse it supports.

Bryant Olsen / Flickr

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has released a plan to protect the habitat of a struggling bird species from being destroyed by wildfire.

The new firefighting strategy comes as Western states work to avoid the sage grouse's classification as a threatened or endangered species. Experts say the restrictions that come with protecting the wide-ranging birds could damage the economies of the 11 states where they are found.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to decide Endangered Species Act protections this fall.

A group of Western-state governors has released a report on voluntary efforts in 11 states to conserve the habitat of sage grouse as part of an effort to avoid a federal listing of the bird under the Endangered Species Act.

The 32-page "2014 Sage-Grouse Inventory" released Thursday by the Western Governors' Association identifies conservation work during the year and is accompanied by a 101-page appendix listing efforts since 2011.

Aaron Maizlish / Flickr

Eleven biologists who study the greater sage grouse tell top federal officials the government isn't preparing to do enough to protect the ground-dwelling birds.

Greater sage grouse inhabit 11 states, including Idaho, and face federal protection because their numbers have declined dramatically over the past century.

In a letter Thursday to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the 11 scientists say the federal government is abandoning science-based conservation of the birds.

Tony Morris / Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is asking Indian tribes, government agencies and others to submit information about conservation efforts for the greater sage grouse.

The service said Monday it needs the best data possible to make a decision on whether the bird warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Congress has barred the federal government from spending money on rules to protect the bird, but the Fish and Wildlife Service says it is still bound by a court order to reach a decision by September on whether a listing is warranted.

USFWS

The future of the greater sage grouse, already uncertain, may get even murkier because Congress is considering delaying protections for the Western bird.

Congress is considering a $1.1 trillion spending bill that would keep the federal government from shutting down. A legislative rider in the bill would put the brakes on protecting the bird.

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