The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on January 17 announced that it's initiating a public input process that could help clear the way for reintroducing grizzly bears into the Bitterroot.
The agency, which is charged with managing threatened and endangered species, is considering the move after a federal court ruled that it had erred by failing to act on a 2000 record of decision establishing a framework for a reintroduction of a "nonessential experimental population" in the Bitterroot Recovery Area. The recovery area spans 5,800 square miles and includes swaths of central Idaho as well as the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness on the west side of Montana's Bitterroot Valley.
Siding with the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Native Ecosystems Council, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy has directed the agency to prepare a new Environmental Impact Statement. The public scoping process that USFWS is undertaking now is a preliminary step in the production of that document, which is expected in the latter half of 2026.