Conservation And Tribal Interests File Motion To Stop Yellowstone Grizzly Delisting

Jan 9, 2018

Yellowstone National Park Emblem Sticker
Credit National Park Service

A coalition of tribal and conservation groups is asking a judge to restore federal protections for Greater Yellowstone grizzly bears, as it also asks the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), to restore federal protections on their own.

The groups include the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity and National Parks Conservation Association. They filed a lawsuit to stop the delisting in August 2017. The group now points to a federal court opinion in asking for an immediate court judgment.

In August, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals kept federal protections in place for Great Lakes gray wolves. The judges' opinion noted individual populations can be delisted separately, but only with a comprehensive evaluation of the broader species recovery. 

For the coalition, this called into question the validity of delisting grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, given the species only populates a fraction of its historical range in the lower 48 states. 

Noah Greenwald, an endangered species director for the Center of Biological Diversity, said, “they can’t just carve out one small portion of a listed entity, call it good without considering how that affects the whole." 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began a regulatory review in December in response to the federal court’s decision, requesting guidance on how to consider it. But Greenwald said that the effort comes too late.

“They’re essentially trying to paper over what they’ve done without actually changing the outcome,” he said.

The groups filed a motion for a court action on Monday in Montana.