Action timeline

October 25, 1983 – The mountain caribou was listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.

2002 – The Center, Defenders of Wildlife, Selkirk Conservation Alliance and Inlands Empire Lands Council petitioned for the designation of critical habitat for mountain caribou.

August 17, 2005 – The Center filed a lawsuit with the Selkirk Conservation Alliance, Northwest Ecosystem Alliance, Defenders of Wildlife, Idaho Conservation League and Inland Empire Lands Council to protect mountain caribou habitat from increasing snowmobile traffic. The lawsuit sought to restrict snowmobile use in critical feeding and calving areas within 450,000 acres of high-elevation forests near Priest Lake, Idaho.

November 2006 – The coalition of plaintiffs in the Center's lawsuit reached an agreement with snowmobile users on which areas and trails needed to be closed off to protect mountain caribou. The U.S. Forest Service intervened with its own plan that would have meant far fewer safeguards for the species.

February 16, 2007 – A Center request that the court reconsider the Service's plan resulted in a decision that banned snowmobiles from a 470-square-mile recovery zone for the Selkirk population of mountain caribou. This represented a compromise between the original agreement and the agency's plan. 

January 15, 2009 – The Center and allies filed suit against the Fish and Wildlife Service to compel a response to a 2002 petition to grant the mountain caribou much-needed critical habitat.

June 3, 2009 – In belated response to our 2002 petition, the Service agreed to consider granting critical habitat to mountain caribou. A draft decision was scheduled for November 2011, with a possible final designation to be complete by 2012.

November 29, 2011 – In response to our petition and lawsuit, the Service proposed to designate 375,562 acres of protected critical habitat in the Selkirk Mountains of northern Idaho and northeastern Washington for the endangered mountain caribou.

November 27, 2012 – The Service later dramatically reduced the caribous's critical habitat in its final designation, protecting only 30,010 acres instead of 375, 562.

December 18, 2012 –The Service announced  that removing Endangered Species Act protections for the mountain caribou “may be warranted.”

January 31, 2013 – The Center and numerous allies filed a formal notice of intent to sue the Service over its 2012 decision to cut more than 90 percent of protected critical habitat for the mountain caribou.

September 30, 2013 – A coalition of six conservation groups, including the Center, filed a lawsuit challenging the Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to cut more than 93 percent of protected critical habitat for the endangered mountain caribou.

May 7, 2014 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that mountain caribou continue to warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act after a petition from an anti-environment law firm, Pacific Legal Foundation, along with Bonners County and the Idaho State Snowmobile Association, which sought to remove protections.

March 2015 –  In response to the 2013 lawsuit by the Center and allies, a federal court ordered the Service to reconsider its 2013 decision to reduce by 90 percent its designation of critical habitat for the endangered mountain caribou.

Photo courtesy Steve Forrest/USFWS