Energy & Environment

Trump appeals court ruling that restored grizzly bear protections

The Trump administration filed Friday to appeal a federal court ruling that restored protections for the Yellowstone grizzly bear.

The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) filed notice that it is asking the San Francisco-based Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to overturn its September ruling that found that the agency acted improperly last year when it removed Endangered Species Act protections for the bear.

Justice Department attorneys did not tell the court their specific arguments for the appeal, a step that will come later in the process.

The states of Idaho and Wyoming, which host the Yellowstone grizzly population, had previously sought to appeal the ruling, as did pro-hunting groups Safari Club International and the National Rifle Association. But the appeal couldn't proceed without the federal government joining in.

Andrea Santarsiere, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity who helped fight for conservation groups in the original court case, slammed the FWS for appealing.

"Rather than come up with a plan to truly recover grizzlies in the west, the Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to spend more time and money in court," she said in a statement.

"Yellowstone's beloved grizzly bears deserve more, and we are prepared to fight vigorously to defend the court's determination that grizzly bears still need federal protection."

The ruling at issue, from Montana Judge Dana Christensen, said that the Trump administration's June 2017 delisting didn't consider many important factors, including the impact that removing protections for the region-specific population would have on the bear's greater population.

"By delisting the Greater Yellowstone grizzly without analyzing how delisting would affect the remaining members of the lower-48 grizzly designation, the Service failed to consider how reduced protections in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem would impact the other grizzly populations," the judge wrote.

About 750 grizzly bears currently live in Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding area, a fact that conservationists say goes to their argument that it needs continued federal protections.

Outbrain