HELENA, Mont. – Amid nearly nine months of silence from the Biden administration on Montana’s petition to delist the recovered grizzly bear in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, Governor Greg Gianforte recently blasted U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for its proposed rulemaking associated with the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The FWS’ proposed change would allow endangered species to be reintroduced in ecosystems outside their historic ranges.
In public comment to a senior FWS official, Gov. Gianforte provided six arguments detailing deficiencies in the FWS proposal and called on the agency to withdraw it. The governor asserted the proposed rule changes exceed the scope of federal law, run afoul of commonsense, infringe on state sovereignty, and threaten the wellbeing of impacted communities, among other issues.
First and foremost, Gov. Gianforte detailed how FWS’ proposal surpasses the scope of the ESA.
“The proposed revision, removing the limitation on where experimental populations can be relocated, is an egregious move beyond the authority bestowed upon the Service,” the governor wrote. “If Congress had intended to permit the action the Service now seeks to facilitate, it would have expressly given that authority in the ESA. It did not.”
The governor pointed out FWS’ stated rationale for seeking the proposed amendments underscores its lack of authority to pursue them.
“The Service’s desire to ‘establish’ its authority in this rule amendment is itself a Freudian admission of what the Service truly seeks…more power,” the governor noted.
Gov. Gianforte also criticized the agency’s proposal for its lack of common sense.
The governor wrote, “It is the height of hubris for the Service to presume that it can successfully introduce experimental populations to new ecosystems, outside their historic ranges, where there is no historic evidence supporting survival.”
“The relationships that evolve between a species and its ecosystem over generations of occupancy are complex, to say the least. Entire careers are spent researching individual species and their ecosystems, only to find more questions that have yet to be answered,” Gov. Gianforte continued. “To introduce experimental populations to new ecosystems renders the experimental population nothing more than an invasive species, threatening the natural balance within the ecosystem unaccustomed to its presence.”
The governor’s full comment on the Service’s rule revisions can be viewed here.