Earthjustice is leading several environmental groups in a lawsuit against the Department of Fish and Wildlife (FWS) over the agency’s decision to remove the grizzly bear from the Endangered Species List, according to a press release.
Environmentalists are accusing the FWS of arbitrarily delisting the bear without considering the impact an increase in grizzly deaths will have on the species in the future, the letter says. Earthjustice notified Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke of the impending litigation in a letter June 30.
“With grizzly deaths spiking, now is not the time to declare the great bear recovered and federal protections unnecessary,” Earthjustice attorney Timothy Preso said in a press release. “The grizzly is a major part of what makes the region in and around Yellowstone National Park so special and unique. We should not be taking a gamble with the grizzly’s future.”
While former President Barack Obama’s administration was trying to delisted the grizzly in 2016, bear deaths increased to about 55 that year from 28 in 2014. The rise in mortality came from more bears fighting other species and their own for limited resources, experts told Reuters in December.
“As far as we’re concerned, the population is maxed out based on the available habitat and we’re seeing more and more deaths because of this density,” Gregg Losinkski, who oversees Yellowstone grizzlies for the federal government, told Reuters at the time.
Zinke announced the Yellowstone grizzly’s delisting June 22. The bear population around the park has recovered from 136 bears in 1975 to around 700, an Interior Department press release said.
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