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Grizzlies "Threatened" Again:

A federal district court judge overturned the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's decision to remove Grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone area from the endangered species list. From the LA Times:

In a strongly worded order, U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy said that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's conclusion that the bears would find adequate food and protected habitat in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho was not supported by the government's own science, and that protections put into place for the grizzlies were not enforceable.

The ruling largely supported conservationists' assertion that the predators faced devastating losses to one of their most important food sources as a result of climate change. It ordered the government to put the bears back under the protection of the Endangered Species Act until long-term strategies to assure their survival were in place.

"Much of the science [cited by the government] directly contradicts the service's conclusions," the judge wrote in his 46-page decision. "Where the agency's conclusions contradict the science, the conclusions are not reasonable, and the court need not defer to the agency's decision."

Prior to the Bush Administration's effort to delist this population, the Grizzlies had been listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act.

UPDATE: I've posted a copy of the order here.

SECOND UPDATE: Holly Doremus has more on Legal Planet:

It's understandable that FWS and others who are deeply invested in conservation efforts want to celebrate their successes by delisting species which show population recoveries. But this decision should serve as a reminder that population increases by themselves don't establish that delisting is appropriate. Delisting should happen only when the species' future is secure, which means that the agency has taken a hard look at its future and verified that looming threats are adequately controlled. At that point, and only at that point, delisting can be cause for celebration rather than for litigation.

FantasiaWHT:
Well why not just let the courts run the endangered species list? Sheesh.

And the court is complaining about the science not supporting the service's conclusions while supporting the conservationists argument that global warming is going to deprive the bears of their food?
9.22.2009 9:14am
ruuffles (mail) (www):

Well why not just let the courts run the endangered species list? Sheesh.

Here is why.

It ordered the government to put the bears back under the protection of the Endangered Species Act until long-term strategies to assure their survival were in place.


global warming is going to deprive the bears of their food?

OM NOM NOM NOM
9.22.2009 9:18am
James Hanley (mail) (www):
Well why not just let the courts run the endangered species list? Sheesh.
You do understand that the FWS has to follow the rule of law, right? And that the ESA requires them to follow where the science leads? So the judge's ruling is that the FWS did not in fact follow the law precisely because they did not follow where the science leads.

That's not letting the courts run the endangered species list, it's letting the courts enforce the rule of law. And most of us think that's a pretty good thing.
9.22.2009 9:32am
texasfox82:
If they're running out of food why not throw 'em a few death row inmates? Kinda like in the Running Man; survive in the bear infested wilderness for xx amount of time and you can go live on an island paradise...
9.22.2009 9:49am
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):
Do you know of a link to the decision, Prof. Adler?
9.22.2009 10:06am
Adam J:
9.22.2009 10:26am
ShelbyC:

You do understand that the FWS has to follow the rule of law, right? And that the ESA requires them to follow where the science leads?


And appearantly the science leads whereever the judge says it does. So back to the original question...
9.22.2009 10:31am
flyovertard (mail):

Then:
Science says CO2 is not pollutant
Bears are OK - they can eat

Now:
Science say CO2 is a pollutant
Now Bears can't eat - they are endangered

A 46-page decision based on link between atmospheric CO2 and the food chain in Jellystone Park is what makes lawyers look like - well, lawyers.
9.22.2009 10:45am
Sara:
I don't think you read the opinion. It doesn't analyze CO2 or global warming because everyone agreed that, for whatever reason, an important food source was declining.
9.22.2009 11:22am
Richard Nieporent (mail):
Everyone knows that due to global warming the ice flows will melt and the polar grizzly bears will drown.
9.22.2009 12:03pm
trotsky (mail):
Perhaps the judge will order the park to reopen its middens.


The Yellowstone grizzly population suffered additional mortalities when the Park closed its garbage dumps in the 1970s.
9.22.2009 12:14pm
George Smith:
What is the important food source that is declining?
9.22.2009 12:17pm
ChrisTS (mail):

Plaintiff claims the delisting decision violates the ESA on four grounds: (1)there are inadequate regulatory mechanisms to protect the grizzly bear once it is
delisted; (2) the Service did not adequately consider the impacts of global warming and other factors on whitebark pine nuts, a grizzly food source; (3) the population is unacceptably small and dependent on translocation of outside animals for genetic diversity; and (4) the Service did not properly consider whether the grizzlies are recovered across a significant portion of their range.



It seems that more than pine nut depletion was considered.
9.22.2009 12:49pm
Douglas2 (mail):
The food source is whitebark pine. The pine is in decline, and the nuts of the pine are a big part of the bears diet. As the bears seek other food sources they are more likely to be in conflict with human populations.
Reasons for the whitebark pine decline are forest fires, pine beetles, and other factors "linked to climate change"

The law allowing delisting also specified re-listing if the grizzly-population monitoring showed that the existing conservation measures weren't working.
9.22.2009 12:52pm
ChrisTS (mail):
Whitebark pine: an important but endangered wildlife resource

Yellowstone grizzly bear mortality, human habituation, and whitebark pine seed crops

Whitebark pine decline: infection, mortality, and population trends

I am not even close to an expert on grizzlies or pine nuts, but I think some refelction on the issue beyond the predictable partisan 'it's all a hoax' rhetoric would be useful.
9.22.2009 12:54pm
Brian Garst (www):

You do understand that the FWS has to follow the rule of law, right? And that the ESA requires them to follow where the science leads?

I would like to meet this "the science," and ask him a few questions.
9.22.2009 1:07pm
George Smith:
Well, many forest fires are naturally occurring phenomena, and there's a huge ongoing row over whether to fight them or let them burn (assuming we fight the human caused fires), and from what I've seen of half of Colorado recently, we ceratinly can't do much about the pine beetle. Its the "factors linked to climate change" that pulls us all down into the mire. Now we are in an AGW argument, and we've seen how well that goes. I don't mind keeping the bears on the ESL because of the first two causes, but baseing the case on "climate change" is a bit of a reach.
9.22.2009 2:55pm
Tsar Czar:
Obviously, what we need is a Grizzly Bear Czar. I suggest the judge in this case for the post, since he's already doing the job.
9.22.2009 3:23pm
martinned (mail) (www):

Obviously, what we need is a Grizzly Bear Czar. I suggest the judge in this case for the post, since he's already doing the job.

There already is a Grizzly Bear Czar, it's called the FWS.
9.22.2009 3:33pm
FC:
But FWS isn't obedient to the law, so it needs a special bear master.

The thought makes me tingly.
9.22.2009 3:41pm
SFH (mail):
Tsar Czar:
Obviously, what we need is a Grizzly Bear Czar.


Appointing only humans to be Czars is obviously discriminatory.
9.22.2009 4:16pm
Dan Hamilton:
The Grizzly Bears can use the same food source as the Mountain Lions in California - Joggers and Hikers.

Why not? The Global Warming - Eco Freaks will be the ones the Bears eat. With the new laws people with common sence will just shoot the bears that attack them. The others will not carry BAD GUNS and will find themselves lower on the food chain as they deserve.

Grizzly Bears will like their new food source. Easy to catch, tasty and all natural.

What more could the Eco-Freaks want?
9.22.2009 4:33pm
josil (mail):
The Park Service eliminated the distant garbage dumps as a food source (it's unnatural, you know) and grizzlies were forced to find food in more populated parts of Yellowstone. Then (unintended consequences again), the grizzlies had to be trapped and moved elsewhere as tourists were not viewed as a proper food source. Now, grizzlies are ranging outside the Park and adapting to a new cuisine on local ranches. Maybe people (including judges) are not as smart as they think they are.
9.22.2009 7:46pm
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
The Grizzly Bears can use the same food source as the Mountain Lions in California - Joggers and Hikers.

Funny. Except — taking that comment seriously — it's a slur on mountain lions, who almost never attack people. See this page for instance at the California Department of Fish and Game, listing all verified mountain lion attacks in the state over the last almost 120 years — this in a state of (now) more than 36 million people, millions of whom live in relatively remote suburbs where tens of thousands of the big cats roam in close proximity to them and their homes.

Notice the number: a grand total of 16, only six of which were fatal, while two of those (resulting from the same attack, a century ago back in 1909) were due to rabies. Given those exceedingly low numbers, clearly it takes a mountain lion who is extremely seriously deranged by their standards — such as sick with rabies (which obviously not very many are) — not just hungry or even starving — for it to attack a human.
9.23.2009 8:04am
extractor:

At that point, and only at that point, delisting can be cause for celebration rather than for litigation

As it stands, any delisting can be a cause for litigation. It's built into the system.
9.23.2009 3:28pm
JFred (mail):
Maybe the "Right to Arm Bears" should be taken more seriously?
9.23.2009 6:48pm

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