Grizzly Bears Win In Court

Greater Yellowstone Area Population of Grizzly Bears Remain Under Federal Protection.

The 9th Circuit Court Appeals ruled on November 22, 2011 that the population of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Area, which includes northwestern Wyoming, southern Montana, and northeastern Idaho, should remain federally protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

While the ruling means that the population will remain listed for the time being, the court also affirmed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) determination that the existing regulatory mechanisms are adequate to protect grizzlies in the Yellowstone area. The Service believes the ruling provides a clear path for eventual delisting of grizzly bears in the area once the agency analyzes and clarifies the relationship between declines in whitebark pine and grizzly bear recovery.

“Our next step will be to better explain the relationship between white bark pine and grizzly bear population recovery and health in the Yellowstone area. We will work with Federal and State agencies and can also call on the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative and our management partners, including the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, to help provide robust scientific information to support this effort,” said Steve Guertin, the Service’s Director of the Mountain-Prairie Region. “Through this cooperative effort, we will continue to ensure the best available science regarding climate change and other stressors on grizzly bears and other wildlife species in the Northern Rockies is used to support our decision-making.”

This finding for the Service recognizes the excellent work and commitment of federal and state partners to conserve grizzly bears by continuing to implement the conservation strategy developed by federal and state scientists, which incorporates intensive monitoring of the Yellowstone bears, their food sources, and their habitat.

The Service will develop a detailed analysis of the relationship between whitebark pine cone production and grizzly recovery using the latest scientific information. This scientific analysis will be the basis for a new proposal to recover and delist this grizzly population.

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