Montana Public Radio

Endangered Species Act

Grizzly bear historic and current range.
Lisa Landenburger, USGS - Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team. Public domain. Sources: IUCN, M. Proctor, Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team.

At their peak, grizzly bears numbered more than 50,000 in the Lower 48. They roamed from the West Coast to the Great Plains, from northern Alaska to central Mexico. Facing threats from habitat loss, hunting and conflicts with people and livestock, their numbers dwindled to fewer than 1,000 in the lower 48 by the time the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was implemented in 1975. Today, managers say the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide populations have recovered and are ready for delisting. Here's a timeline of the management actions, court cases and notable events that have shaped grizzly bear recovery since their ESA listing through today.

USFWS

Wildlife advocates on Thursday asked a federal court to overturn a U.S. government decision that stripped Endangered Species Act protections for wolves across most of the nation.

Two coalitions of advocacy groups filed lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Northern California seeking to restore safeguards for a predator that is revered by wildlife watchers but feared by many livestock producers.

Two grizzly bear cubs killed by a train near Trego were discovered Oct. 15, 2019.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

The BNSF Railway Company Tuesday published a long-awaited habitat conservation plan intended to reduce grizzly bear mortalities in Northwest Montana.

Wolverine
Gerald and Buff Corsi, California Academy of Sciences. (USFS)

Conservation groups have filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to withhold Endangered Species Act protection from wolverines in the lower 48 states. That’s where no more than 300 of the animals are thought to remain. 

Map of whitebark pine range
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it’s proposing federal protections for whitebark pine trees.

At least one environmental group argues the protections don’t go far enough.

Grizzly bear. Stock photo.
(PD)

After two record-breaking years of grizzly bear deaths in Northwest Montana, bear mortalities have dropped back down.

An map excerpt of the Soldier-Butler Project area.
Lolo National Forest

Two conservation groups Friday sued the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over a proposed logging project in the Lolo National Forest on land wildlife managers say is important for grizzly bear connectivity.

US Wildlife Agency Seeks To Carve Out Areas From Protections

Sep 4, 2020
Lesser prairie chicken.
CC-BY-2 https://www.flickr.com/photos/larry1732/

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Trump administration proposal released Friday would allow the government to deny habitat protections for endangered animals and plants in areas that would see greater economic benefits from being developed — a change critics said could open lands to more energy development and other activities.

C. M. Delphia / Montana State University's Montana Entomology Collection

A federal review of existing data unveiled an alarming trend for the western bumblebee population: its numbers have dwindled by as much as 93% in the last two decades.

The U.S. Geological Survey finding will help inform a species status assessment by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this fall, which may ultimately add the insect to its endangered species list.

An Arctic grayling run
Michael (Josh) Melton / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

U.S. wildlife officials on Wednesday rejected special protections for a rare, freshwater fish related to salmon that's been at the center of a long-running legal dispute. The decision cited conservation efforts that helped increase the Arctic grayling’s numbers in a Montana river.

The Associated Press obtained details of the decision not to protect the fish under the Endangered Species Act in advance of a public announcement.

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