Conservation groups: Yellowstone griz need federal protection |

Conservation groups: Yellowstone griz need federal protection

Associated Press Writer
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) ” Conservation groups on Tuesday challenged the federal government’s plan to remove Yellowstone-area grizzly bears from protection under the Endangered Species Act.

In March, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the removal of the grizzlies from the list of “threatened” animals effective April 30, capping what officials described as a successful two-decade effort to recover the animal from near-extinction.

The change would remove federal protections and open the door to public hunting of grizzlies for the first time in decades.

On Tuesday, eight groups notified USFWS that they intend to file a lawsuit if the delisting is not reversed within 60 days. The groups argue the 500 bears now living in and around Yellowstone National Park are too few to guarantee long-term survival of the population in the face of global warming, habitat loss and other pressures.

“There is not shortage of things wrong with this,” said attorney Douglas Honnold with Earthjustice, which is representing the groups.

USFWS regional director Mitch King said he had not yet seen the conservation groups’ notice, but defended his agency’s actions as appropriate for the grizzlies.

“I don’t think the world’s perfect, but we’ve done just about everything humanly possible to make sure grizzly bear populations remain stable in and around Yellowstone,” he said.

Four other groups of grizzly bears in the lower 48 states would retain their “threatened” status under the government’s proposal.

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