A federal appeals court has ruled that Grizzlies still need federal endangered species protection due to concerns about the decline of White Bark pine, a key food source. The ruling by the 9th circuit court of appeals means that the U-S Fish and Wildlife Service must study the threat of White Bark pine before de-listing can move forward in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Mike Clarke with the Greater Yellowstone Coalition is also calling on Fish and Wildlife to expand the Grizzlies habitat area.
“85% of our White Bark is either dead or dying. So, the expansion of the recovery area is not to pick up more White Bark, but to expand the habitat of the Grizzly.”
Eric Kezler of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department says an expansion of the habitat area is not needed and it has been proven that Grizzlies are recovered. He says once the Fish and Wildlife Service finishes its review of the White Bark Pine that the next step will be delisting.
“The Fish and Wildlife Service is going to have to go back and re-do how they talk about White Bark Pine in their delisting rule. But the other thing, the court overturned another decision that said regulatory mechanisms in the grizzly bear conservation strategy were not adequate. So this court said those regulatory mechanisms are adequate. So I think that’s a big step in leading towards de-listing of the bears.”
Two members of the three-judge panel criticized government wildlife officials for a "damn-the-torpedoes approach" to removing protections.