Golden Gate University Law Review


Rob Roy Smith


This article begins by providing a brief overview of the history of the grizzly bear reintroduction efforts and the Clinton Administration's decision to move forward with plans to secure an experimental population of the threatened species in the remote wilderness of Idaho and Montana. Section III focuses on local reaction to the decision to reintroduce the grizzly bear, and in particular, the strong rhetoric of the Idaho congressional delegation opposing the reintroduction. Section IV brings new light on the subsequent legal challenge brought by Governor Dirk Kempthorne and the Republican legislative leadership of the State of Idaho to bar the grizzly bear reintroduction. Section V discusses Secretary Norton's decision to adopt the "no action" alternative and substitute "best politics" for the "best available science." This section also reviews the public's overwhelmingly negative response to the Secretary's decision, paying particular attention to the comments of the framers of the citizen-driven reintroduction alternative and the Nez Perce Tribe ("Nez Perce" or "Tribe"). Section VI looks towards the future of grizzly bear recovery and other species reintroduction programs under the Endangered Species Act and the potential for litigation to force the Administration to take action on the grizzly bear plan. Finally, this article concludes that the Secretary Norton's decision to acquiesce to the will of a state Governor in the face of conclusive scientific evidence to the contrary signals an uncertain future for species reintroduction and the Endangered Species Act under the Bush Administration.