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Grizzly Protection Restored

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The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals announced yesterday that it is upholding a 2009 court decision which restored Endangered Species Act protections for this region’s isolated population of grizzly bears. In their decision, the judges ruled that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service failed to consider grizzly bears’ shrinking food source in the Yellowstone National Park area when it decided to strip the animal of the protections of the Endangered Species Act. The conservation group, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, sued in Montana federal court to block the bear’s delisting, arguing that the decline in whitebark pine trees, which produce seeds that are a food staple for bears, threatened the animals’ long-term survival.  However, in the ruling, the judges noted Fish & Wildlife Service’s delisting process was well underway before the loss of whitebark pine emerged as a problem.  Now that the threat has emerged, the three-judge panel said, the service cannot ignore it and move ahead with the delisting.  Furthermore, they denied that should the recovery of the bear destabilize after delisting that protections could be easily restored.

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