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Court Ruling Saves Grizzly Bears from Lethal Threat at Yellowstone: In Defense of the Iconic

June 21, 2023
1 min read

A recent ruling by the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has undone a plan by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The court ruled against the authorization to kill up to 72 grizzly bears, including females. The authorization to kill 72 grizzlies on public lands near Yellowstone National Park violates federal law. Grizzlies have one of the lowest reproduction rates among mammals, making the survival of females critical for the bears’ recovery.

Conservationists emphasize that removing even a few female grizzly bears can significantly impact the population’s health. Female grizzlies take ten years to replace themselves in the wild, underscoring the importance of their protection. The agencies argued that removing 72 bears would align with population goals for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Conservationists are urging the Forest Service to order ranchers to use nonlethal options to prevent conflicts, such as removing livestock carcasses and consistently using range riders to monitor herds. They are also calling for an end to the killing of female bears while the analysis is reconsidered. The court found that the failure to limit the number of female grizzly bears that could be killed was arbitrary and could jeopardize the population in the project area.

The grazing program area approved in 2019 by the U.S. Forest Service encompasses important habitat for Yellowstone grizzly bears and other endangered species. However, the decision authorized the killing of up to 72 grizzly bears over the 10-year life of the grazing program without limiting the killing of female bears or cubs.

The court also ruled that the Forest Service failed to follow its own Forest Plan requirements for wildlife habitat protection for migratory birds. This decision highlights the Forest Service’s disregard for its commitments to wildlife habitat conservation, which has been a consistent concern raised by environmental organizations.

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The tourism industry benefits from the grizzly sightings in the surrounding areas. Currently, there are only five isolated populations of grizzlies in the lower 48 states, making places like Yellowstone National Park crucial for bear sightings. Protecting the bears not only benefits their recovery but also supports local economies and businesses.

Various environmental organizations, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, Western Watersheds Project, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, and Yellowstone to Uintas Connection, have been actively challenging the agencies’ decisions through legal action. Today’s opinion overturns a previous ruling and sends the agencies back to reevaluate their flawed analysis and ensure the protection of female grizzly bears and their habitat.

Govind Tekale

Embarking on a new journey post-retirement, Govind, once a dedicated teacher, has transformed his enduring passion for current affairs and general knowledge into a conduit for expression through writing. His historical love affair with reading, which borders on addiction, has evolved into a medium to articulate his thoughts and disseminate vital information. Govind pens down his insights on a myriad of crucial topics, including the environment, wildlife, energy, sustainability, and health, weaving through every aspect that is quintessential for both our existence and that of our planet. His writings not only mirror his profound understanding and curiosity but also serve as a valuable resource, offering a deep dive into issues that are critical to our collective future and well-being.

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