Environmental groups are suing the Trump administration over its decision to remove the Yellowstone grizzly bear’s protections as a threatened species.
In a pair of lawsuits filed in Montana federal court Wednesday, the groups say the Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service ignored dire threats to the Yellowstone grizzly’s livelihood, such as climate change and declines in its food sources, and improperly designated it as a distinct population from nearby bears.
“With grizzly deaths spiking and the population in apparent decline, the Yellowstone population needs continued protection, not a new threat of state-sponsored trophy hunting,” Timothy Preso, an attorney with Earthjustice, said in a statement.
“The grizzly is a major part of what makes the region in and around Yellowstone National Park so special and unique,” he said. “We should not be taking a gamble with the grizzly’s future.”
Earthjustice is representing the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity and the National Parks Conservation Association in its lawsuit. WildEarth Guardians filed its own lawsuit, though they are likely to be combined.
“The Service failed to carry out its paramount — and mandatory — duty to ensure grizzly bears in the contiguous United States are recovered to the point at which the protections of the Endangered Species Act are no longer necessary,” Kelly Nokes, carnivore advocate at WildEarth, said in a statement.
“The Service’s decision is riddled with flaws, not based in science nor the law, and places this icon of all that is wild squarely in the crosshairs of extinction once again.”
The Justice Department declined to comment on the cases.
The Trump administration’s June delisting decision, which was proposed under the Obama administration, was met with praise by state leaders in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, where the Yellowstone grizzly lives.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said at the time that the growth in population and range of the bear show that it no longer needs federal protection.
“This achievement stands as one of America’s great conservation successes; the culmination of decades of hard work and dedication on the part of state, tribal, federal and private partners,” Zinke said.