MTPR

Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

A grizzly bear mother and cub in Yellowstone Park.
iStock

The state of Montana filed its final arguments late last week in the complex and controversial lawsuit over the fate of Yellowstone-area grizzly bears.

In the summer of 2017 the Department of the Interior removed Endangered Species Act protections for the roughly 700 bears estimated to live in the area at the time. Tribes and conservation groups promptly filed suit and a federal judge in Missoula restored protections for the bruins last fall

A member of the Governor’s Grizzly Bear Advisory Council writing a note about grizzly connectivity, Oct. 2019.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

Updated: 10/07/19 at 5:15 p.m.

A new council dedicated to building consensus around state grizzly management and paving the way to delisting wrapped up its first round of meetings last week.

Correction: A previous version of this story stated the hunter was taken to Ruby Valley Medical Center in Sheridan, Wyoming. The Ruby Valley Medical Center is in Sheridon, Montana. YPR News regrets the error.

Another hunter survived a grizzly bear attack Tuesday in the western Gravelly Mountains. The attack happened between the Coal Creek Drainage and Eureka Basin Road, according to a press release from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. It was about eight miles south of where three other hunters were injured last week in two separate grizzly bear attacks.

Grizzly bear at Swan Lake Flats in Yellowstone National Park.
Jim Peaco (PD)

The U.S. Interior Department announced changes Monday to how federal agencies will apply the Endangered Species Act (ESA). There is concern that the changes could affect Yellowstone grizzly bears' threatened status in the future.

The bears' status under the Endangered Species Act has been tied up in court for years.

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.

Hilary Cooley, the grizzly bear recovery coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife Service, presenting at an annual meeting on grizzlies in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, Nov. 20, 2018.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

The Trump Administration must decide by Friday whether to appeal a ruling from a federal judge in Missoula last fall that put Yellowstone-area grizzly bears back on the endangered species list.

Map showing the area between estimated occupied grizzly bear range in the NCDE to the north and the GYE to the south.
Lisa Landenburger, USGS - Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team. Public domain. Source: Peck et al. 2017.

Don’t expect the federal government to propose removing grizzly bears in Northwest Montana from the endangered species list anytime soon, officials say.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator Hilary Cooley says it’s complicated trying to prove in court that the grizzly population is recovered.

Causes of known and probable documented mortalities of grizzly bear in the NCDE.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks


On Tuesday, grizzly bear managers announced that a representative from Montana’s Department of Transportation will be joining their committee in hopes of reducing a growing number of bear deaths on highways.

Conflicts between grizzly bears and humans in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are on the rise as more bears return to their historic range. The Montana Bear Education Working Group is trying to teach people how to reduce encounters and stay safe.

Following a record year of deaths for grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone, state and federal wildlife managers met in Bozeman this week to discuss efforts to reduce conflicts with humans. 

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