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Conservation Group Sues Forest Service Over Roads In Grizzly Bear Habitat

Grizzly bear.
Grizzly bear.

A conservation group has filed a lawsuit against two federal agencies for allegedly low-balling road mileage counts in grizzly bear habitat in the Kootenai National Forest.

Alliance for the Wild Rockies’ Executive Director Mike Garrity says roads in grizzly bear habitat tend to mean more poached bears.

"Most grizzly bears that are killed in the Cabinet-Yaak are killed near roads, because it's easy to shoot a bear if you have a gun and you're on a road," Garrity says.

In the suit filed Friday, the Alliance says the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are ignoring their own science by not including roads behind earthen berms in total road mileage counts. The Alliance says the omission allows the Forest Service to build new logging roads that exceed road mileage limits in grizzly bear habitat.

The Forest Service says earthen berms effectively keep motorized vehicles off the roads and those miles shouldn’t be counted. But a recent study commissioned by the Alliance found that people drive over or around the berms to access closed roads. The Alliance wants all roads counted, and to prohibit construction of new logging roads.

A spokesperson from the Kootenai National Forest did not return a call for comment before deadline Monday.

Nicky is MTPR's Flathead-area reporter.
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