Court ruling keeps Yellowstone grizzlies on 'threatened' list
Conservationists won a major battle Tuesday in their campaign to protect Yellowstone grizzly bears when a federal appeals court ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service erred in removing Endangered Species Act protections for "one of the American West's most iconic wild animals."
The ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the wildlife agency's 2007 decision to remove the "threatened" designation for the bears under the Endangered Species Act.
Tuesday's ruling cited climate change as having accelerated a beetle infestation destroying the bears' vital white-bark pine food source. The grizzly is only the second wildlife species, after the polar bear, to earn protection in recognition of harm caused by global warming. Both are considered "threatened."
The three-judge panel embraced conservationists' warnings that the decline in the grizzlies' fodder would likely drive them to forage in more populous areas around the park, increasing incidents of confrontation between humans and the omnivorous bears.
-- Carol Williams and Julie Cart
Photo: A grizzly wanders through open brush inside Yellowstone National Park. Credit: James Peaco / Associated Press