Yellowstone grizzly bears back under endangered-species protections

Judge rules that the US government didn’t consider the best available science when it removed the animals from the endangered-species list.

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A grizzly bear looks up from grasses at Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park

Planned grizzly hunts in Wyoming and Idaho won't go forward.Credit: Frank Fichtmüller/Getty

A US federal court has restored endangered-species protections to grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) living around Yellowstone National Park.

The 24 September ruling reverses a controversial 2017 decision by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to remove legal protections for the roughly 700 grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone population.

Judge Dana Christensen determined that the FWS had failed to consider the effects that removing these bears from the endangered-species list would have on other grizzly-bear populations in the contiguous United States. The court also found that the agency did not use the best available science when negotiating with Wyoming, Idaho and Montana — the states where these bears live — about their participation in a conservation strategy for the delisted grizzlies.

The restored protections mean that trophy hunts in Wyoming and Idaho that were scheduled for this autumn won’t occur. The hunts could have killed up to 23 grizzly bears.

It’s unclear whether the government will appeal the court ruling.

doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-06840-0
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