September 22, 2009

Yellowstone grizzlies are back on the Endangered Species list

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Grizzly bears – those iconic symbols of Yellowstone Park – are back on the Endangered Species list.

The same judge who earlier this month put a green light on the Montana and Idaho wolf hunts said the big bears in the Yellowstone area were wrongly removed from the Endangered Species Act protections in 2007. U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy of Montana said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not adequately consider the impacts of global warming and other factors on the whitebark pine nuts, which are an important food source for the grizzly bears, reports Jill Kuraitis in New West. That’s two years after federal officials announced the bears’ “amazing” recovery.

There are about 500 grizzlies remaining in the Yellowstone area in and around Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. A coalition of environmental groups brought the suit to relist the bears.

In its Greenspace blog, the Los Angeles Times noted the judge’s comments that the federal monitoring program designed to maintain the bear population at more than 500 bears has no enforcement mechanism in case numbers decline.

“Even if the monitoring were enforceable, the monitoring itself does nothing to protect the grizzly bear population,” the judge wrote. “Instead, there is only a promise of future, unenforceable actions.

— Rita Hibbard

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