Grizzly lawsuits begin
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
August 30, 2017
Within the last two days, two lawsuits were filed in federal district court in Montana challenging the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service decision to remove grizzly bears from federal protection.
Earthjustice is representing the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, and National Parks Conservation Association in filing a legal challenge that takes issue with the Service’s evaluation of the mortality consequences of the bears’ recent shift to a more heavily meat-based diet following the loss of other foods. It also faults the agency for delisting the Yellowstone grizzly population instead of focusing on a broader, more durable grizzly recovery in the West.
The Earthjustice complaint notes that the interagency plan that governs bear management upon delisting includes mortality limits that "do not adequately limit the number of bears that may be killed due to conflicts with hunters and livestock."
In a separate action, the Human Society of the United States and its affiliate, The Fund for Animals, also filed a lawsuit contesting the grizzly bear delisting. The lawsuit, filed in federal court for the District of Montana in Missoula, alleges that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated the Endangered Species Act and the Administrative Procedure Act by delisting grizzly bears without considering the best available science regarding ongoing threats to their survival. These threats include the continued decline of staple food sources (causing increased human-bear conflict as more bears venture beyond the Parks in search of food) and inadequate state-level protections.