The plight of the grayling, like many native fish in the West is tied to livestock production. Directly and indirectly livestock production is the major factor in grayling decline. As a result of the political clout of the ranching industry, the agencies responsible for grayling recovery including the Montana Dept of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MDFWP) as well as the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) have had to operate with one hand tied behind their backs. Their walking orders are to do nothing that would antagonize the ranchers. The machinations that have befallen the grayling are a clear example of how political considerations trump the biological criteria that are supposed to guide ESA decisions.
In March of 2004 the FWS finally bumped the grayling priority from a level nine to a level three, the highest priority level for a candidate listing. In May 2004, I and others, petitioned for emergency listing of the grayling to try to move it from candidate to protected status. After nearly three years of delay, the Fish and Wildlife Service responded to our petition in April of 2007. Instead of listing the grayling, the FWS reversed itself due to interference from the Bush administration, and determined the grayling no longer deserved special Distinct Population Status at all and removed it from candidate status. This decision was legally challenged by the Center for Biological Diversity and others.Good on ya Barry!
In 2009, after the election of Barack Obama, the FWS again reversed itself, and remanded the 2007 decision, and conducted a new review of the Distinct Population Status (DPS). In September of 2010 the FWS concluded that the grayling was indeed listable under the DPS. It was once again given a priority level three candidate status where it remains today.