The proposed agreement confirms the interest of all parties in developing habitat-based recovery criteria which will identify those habitat characteristics that grizzly bears need for a recovered population to persist. These criteria, including such things as food, cover, and levels of human activities, will be identified and measured prior to any consideration of delisting.
Once the Service has developed draft habitat-based recovery criteria, it will make these available to the public for review and comment. Opportunities for the public to comment on this document will be announced in the local media. Prior to the release of the recovery criteria to the public, a workshop will be held for scientists from other agencies and the private sector to present their comments and suggestions on the habitat-based criteria developed by the Service.
The information and views presented at the workshop, together with the information provided to the Service during the public comment period will be considered by the Service before the habitat-based recovery criteria are finalized. When the Service finalizes the criteria, it will address in writing any significant public comments.
When the Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan was revised in 1993, a consortium of environmental groups led by the Fund for Animals and the National Audubon Society sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service claiming the Recovery Plan violated the Endangered Species Act and did not ensure the long-term survival of the grizzly bear. In October 1995, a federal judge in Washington D.C. ruled in favor of the Recovery Plan in several areas and ruled against the plan in others. As a result of these findings and several months of negotiations, the parties arrived at the settlement presented recently to the court.
In 1975, the grizzly bear was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The first Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan was completed in 1982. To assist in recovery efforts, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee was created in 1983. The plan was revised in 1993 to incorporate new information about bear biology and conservation. It identifies grizzly bear recovery zones where grizzly bears and their habitat will be managed and where populations will be monitored.
As part of the settlement agreement, a joint news release was to be developed and issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Fund for Animals and National Audubon Society.