Fish and Wildlife Service appeals judge’s ruling that blocked delisting of Yellowstone grizzlies

Posted at 11:51 AM, Dec 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-22 13:54:21-05

MISSOULA – The United States Fish and Wildlife Service took the decision right up to the deadline, but will go ahead with an appeal of a federal judge’s ruling, which blocked a decision to remove protections for Yellowstone grizzlies.

In August, a coalition of conservation and tribal groups took the Fish and Wildlife Service and Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho to court, attempting to block a 2017 federal decision, which took grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem off of the “threatened species list.”

Wyoming and Idaho prepared to hunt the bears this fall as part of their management strategy while Montana remained on the sidelines for this season.

A few weeks later, U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen vacated the delisting, siding with the conservation and wildlife groups, saying the Service had “failed to make a reasoned decision”. Most of all, he said the federal biologists had not given full consideration to how removing federal protections for the Yellowstone grizzlies would impact the bear numbers elsewhere in the Northern Rockies.

Now, the Service is appealing Christensen’s ruling, seeking to have the decision overturned. That filing also clears the way for other parties, such as the states, to join the appeal.

In a Friday press release, Fish, Wildlife and Parks stated that grizzly bears are expanding from beyond the core areas where they’ve met population recovery goals such as the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. Instead, they’re appearing in places they haven’t been for decades such as the prairie east of the Rocky Mountain Front, parts of western Montana, and areas northeast of Yellowstone National Park.

-Reported by Dennis Bragg/MTN News