At least three different legal challenges were launched Friday against the U.S. government’s decision to lift protections for grizzly bears in the Yellowstone National Park area that have been in place for more than 40 years.
The Northern Cheyenne Tribe, Center for Biological Diversity, The Humane Society, and WildEarth Guardians are among those challenging the plan to lift restrictions this summer.
Here’s the official press release from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks regarding the relisting of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem . . .
In the final step marking a remarkable recovery effort, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Thursday that grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem will be removed from the Endangered Species List.
“The delisting demonstrates Montana’s long-standing commitment to the recovery of grizzly bears,” said Martha Williams, director of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “FWP takes its public trust responsibility seriously and we intend to follow through in sustaining grizzly bears in Montana as well as all other species that we manage.”
Grizzly bears were put on the Endangered Species List in 1975. At that point as few as 136 bears remained in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). Today the population is estimated at more than 700.
Management of bears in Montana’s portion of the GYE will be guided by the interagency Conservation Strategy, which will ensure a recovered grizzly bear population and that FWP and the other states continue to meet the criteria in the recovery plan. This Conservation Strategy was approved by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee in December. The strategy along with the Southwest Montana Grizzly Management Plan and a Memorandum of Agreement between Idaho, Montana and Wyoming will ensure a healthy grizzly population is maintained in the GYE.
Also, the three states have agreed to manage bears conservatively and not down to a minimum number. The goal for state management is to maintain a healthy grizzly bear population in the GYE.
“The grizzly bear population in the GYE has met all the recovery goals and the necessary safeguards are in place. This is an amazing success story,” said Ken McDonald, FWP wildlife division administrator.
FWP remains committed to continue its monitoring of females with cubs, genetic variation, bear distribution and mortalities.
In addition, FWP staff will monitor and respond to instances of human-bear interaction, livestock conflicts and provide grizzly bear outreach and education.
Thursday’s announcement only applies to the GYE. Grizzlies in the rest of Montana, including the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, will remain on the Endangered Species List.
The feds officially announced they are removing the Yellowstone ecosystem grizzlies from the Endangered Species List . . .
For the first time in more than four decades, the Yellowstone grizzly bear is set to lose its federal protections under the Endangered Species Act. Citing a rebound in the bear’s population, the U.S. Department of Interior announced its intention Thursday to end these protections and return oversight of the animal’s status to the state level.
The agency says the rule to remove the grizzly from the endangered species list will be published “in coming days” and “will take effect 30 days after publication.”
“This achievement stands as one of America’s great conservation successes; the culmination of decades of hard work and dedication on the part of the state, tribal, federal and private partners,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement. “As a Montanan, I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together.”
USFWS is reviewing the status of the fisher to determine whether it should be added to the Endangered Species List . . .
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Friday the initiation of a status review for the distinct population segment of Northern Rocky Mountain fisher, to determine whether this population meets the definition of an endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
Bigger than a marten, but smaller than a wolverine, the fisher is in the same family that also includes weasels, mink, and otters. Fishers live in coniferous and mixed conifer and hardwood forests and are found commonly in mature forest cover. They’re one of the few creatures that kill and eat porcupines.
In Montana, the best fisher habitat is in the old growth wilderness of the Selway-Bitterroot. While fisher tracks have been noted in places like Glacier National Park, extensive hair trapping studies done a few years ago did not find any fishers, according to Park biologist John Waller.
Members of the Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee voted to approve a conservation strategy allowing for delisting of the grizzly bear in the region including Yellowstone Park. The vote was not quite unanimous, with the superintendent of Yellowstone Park voting against it and Leander Watson of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe abstaining . . .
Wildlife officials have moved one step closer to removing the Yellowstone grizzly population from the Endangered Species Act by approving a future conservation strategy.
The Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee voted to approve the conservation strategy, sending it to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as part of what has been a months-long process to potentially remove the Yellowstone grizzly from federal protection.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed lifting the federal protections for the Yellowstone bears in March. Grizzly bears were first listed as threatened in 1975 when the Yellowstone population was estimated to have as few as 136 bears. Recent estimates say the population is now above 700.
Yet another meeting to discuss removing Yellowstone area grizzlies from the Endangered Species List . . .
State and federal wildlife managers are considering removing Endangered Species Act protections from grizzly bears living in Yellowstone National Park.
Officials are meeting in Cody on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss post-delisting management plans. The member agencies of the Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee had hoped to approve a final draft of the post-delisting management plant, but officials say it’s unclear that will happen.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed lifting the federal protections for the Yellowstone bears in March. Grizzly bears were first listed as threatened in 1975 when the Yellowstone population was estimated to have as few as 136 bears. Recent estimates say the population has now climbed above 700.
Here’s a well-researched piece by Rob Chaney of the Missoulian. It discusses the status of the ‘lynx rule,’ which recently survived a whole series of judicial appeals . . .
A court order to do more work on protecting Canadian lynx in Rocky Mountain forests could become a late-season battleground for congressional action this winter.
Last week, the Supreme Court let stand a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the U.S. Forest Service has to take a big-picture look at how it protects critical lynx habitat across 12 million acres touching 11 national forests. While wildlife advocates claimed a major win for the Endangered Species Act, timber industry supporters vowed to rewrite laws to speed up logging projects.
“It’s now known as the Cottonwood decision, and it affects pretty much the whole Nort
hwest,” said Julia Altemus of the Montana Wood Products Association. “I’m hoping we can find a path forward, either legally or by a congressional path.”
Wildlife managers continue to work on a plan to remove grizzly bears from the Endangered Species List. Meanwhile, there’s evidence of contact between the two main grizzly population centers . . .
Federal plans to delist the grizzly bear from Endangered Species Act protection will get a second round of public comment.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Tuesday announcement follows its release of a peer-review report generally approving its management plan for allowing state management of grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Coincidentally, it also arrives on the heels of reports that Yellowstone grizzlies may be making contact with their fellows in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem north of Missoula.
Montana, Idaho and Wyoming state wildlife managers have all proposed plans for both protecting and hunting Yellowstone grizzly bear populations, assuming they leave federal management. Northern grizzlies are considered a separate population, although they are undergoing a similar delisting process that isn’t as far along as the Yellowstone one.
Representatives of several tribes held a gathering in Glacier Park to speak out in favor of retaining grizzly bear protections . . .
As federal wildlife managers prepare to move grizzly bears off the Endangered Species List in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, opposition to delisting the iconic — and to many, sacred — animal has continued.
Led by several tribal nations, a crowd of roughly 100 people met at the eastern gateway of Glacier National Park on Friday for a “Prayer for the Great Bear” ceremony.
David Bearshield of the Cheyenne Nation sang a prayer in his native language with the shore of St. Mary’s Lake as the backdrop.
The Flathead Beacon has an interesting story about the attempt to restore the whitebark pine forests . . .
To the uninitiated, the stark beauty of a whitebark pine is revealed only after the tree has died and shed its needles, leaving behind a vertical boneyard of wind-twisted limbs that writhes in the high-alpine sky like a ghostly apparition.
At the height of vitality, however, the whitebark pine is only distinct from other verdant stands of conifers to the trained eye despite the network of wildlife they sustain.
Foresters and researchers who understand the critical ecological importance of the keystone species are striving to reanimate these ghost forests, and may be closing in on a strategy to ensure their future survival, as well as that of the many wildlife species who depend on its nutrient-dense cones.