Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Judge: Grizzlies need more protection

Ruling says feds violated ESA

Express Staff Writer

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy ruled Monday that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated the federal Endangered Species Act by removing the greater Yellowstone area grizzly bear population from the threatened species list.

Molloy, the Missoula, Mont.,-based judge who recently allowed wolf hunting in Idaho and Montana to continue, found in favor of two of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition's four charges against the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Molloy agreed with the conservation group that there are "inadequate regulatory mechanisms to protect the grizzlies" and ruled that inadequate consideration has been given to the decline of whitebark pines, a major food source for the bears.

The Greater Yellowstone Coalition contended that the plan for delisting the bears in this area did not take into account the impact of global warming on whitebark pine nuts, which have been disappearing with the increase of mountain pine beetles.

Molloy's decision invalidates a decision by the Fish and Wildlife Service to delist grizzly bears in the Yellowstone area in March 2007. All grizzlies within the lower 48 states were designated as a threatened species in 1975. Grizzlies outside the greater Yellowstone area remain on the list.

The Fish and Wildlife Service will need to create a new plan that addresses these issues if it wants to delist the grizzlies.

Jon Duval:

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