Montana Public Radio

Conservation Groups Challenge USFWS Opinion On Yellowstone-Area Grizzly Mortalities

Jan 21, 2020

Conservation groups Tuesday announced plans to sue the Trump Administration over a decision that would allow federal officials to kill or remove more than 70 grizzly bears over the next decade near Yellowstone. Officials say this is necessary because of increasing conflicts with people and property on U.S. Forest Service land.

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Sierra Club say a 2019 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service opinion on cattle grazing in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest threatens the population of roughly 700 grizzlies that live in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. That opinion allows 72 grizzly mortalities over the next 10 years, and recommends conservation measures to be implemented by cattle grazers.

"It’s really just disappointing to see the federal government caving to the livestock industry once again," says Andrea Santarsiere, senior attorney at the CBD. She says it’s the highest number of bear mortalities she’s ever seen the government permit, and that those conservation measures are inadequate and unenforceable.

Yellowstone grizzlies are listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act, and a government attempt to remove those protections is tied up in federal appeals court.

The government has 60 days to respond before the groups formally file suit.