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Safari Club appeals ruling that put grizzly bears back on threatened species list

January 14, 2010 | 10:18 am

A grizzly bear walks through a field at Yellowstone National Park.

Safari Club International is appealing a federal court ruling, which if overturned could lead to grizzly bear hunting near Yellowstone National Park.

The Associated Press reports that the organization has asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a ruling made by U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in September in Missoula, Mont., in which Molloy reinstated protected status to the Greater Yellowstone Area grizzly population -- estimated at 600 bears -- stating that lax protection from government agencies combined with climate change put the animals at risk.

Grizzlies had been listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act from 1975 until 2007, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared them recovered and removed them from protection. The environmental group Greater Yellowstone Coalition filed a lawsuit to reverse this decision, which brought about Molloy's ruling.

Safari Club attorney Douglas Burdin said that grizzlies should be under state, rather than federal, jurisdiction.

If the decision is overturned, grizzlies would join gray wolves as two species recently opened to legal hunting in the region. Some gray wolf populations were removed from protection under the Endangered Species Act last May, leading to the first wolf hunting seasons in Montana and Idaho.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: A grizzly bear walks through a field at Yellowstone National Park. Credit: Terry Tollefsbol / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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