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On Paper, Yellowstone Grizzlies Are 'Endangered' Again

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Tuesday that it officially placed grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem back on the endangered species list, complying with a 2018 court order.

The Fish and Wildlife Service removed Greater Yellowstone bears from the federal endangered species list in 2017, saying the population was distinct and that it no longer needed endangered species protections.

Last September, a federal judge in Missoula reversed that decision.

Fish and Wildlife appealed, and litigation is ongoing.

Spokesperson Jennifer Strickland says today’s announcement does not affect the appeal.

“It’s more of an administrative announcement. We’re letting folks know that the record is being updated. However, protections for grizzly bears have been in place as a threatened species since the Montana District Court overturned our decision to delist them last September," she says.

Alliance for the Wild Rockies Mike Garrity agreed and says the announcement doesn’t change what’s been happening on the ground.

"In reality, they’re saying 'we complied with what the judge ordered us to do, 10 months later,'" Garrity says. In reality, they’ve been protected for the last 10 months.”

Fish and Wildlife’s appeal is currently before the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco.*

+An earlier draft of this story mis-identified the court as the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, DC. 

Aaron Bolton is Montana Public Radio's Flathead Valley reporter.
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