Yellowstone Grizzly Bear De-Listing Overturned by 9th Circuit

By JC

It was just a matter of time until the USFWS’s rush for delistings caught up with them. In an Opinion released today, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and overturned the April 2007 delisting of grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Area. There is much to said about this case, and its announced decision today, but I’ll let the Opinion speak for itself:

the [US Fish & Wildlife] Service cannot take a full-speed ahead, damn-the-torpedoes approach to delisting…

The Service’s delisting decision, the subject of this appeal, raises a host of scientific, political, and philosophical questions regarding the complex relationship between grizzlies and people in the Yellowstone region. We emphasize at the outset that those are not the questions that we grapple with here. We, as judges, do not purport to resolve scientific uncertainties or ascertain policy preferences. We address only those issues we are expressly called upon to decide pertaining to the legality of the Service’s delisting decision: first, whether the Service rationally supported its conclusion that a projected decline in whitebark pine, a key food source for the bears, does not threaten the Yellowstone grizzly population; and second, whether the Service rationally supported its conclusion that adequate regulatory mechanisms are in place to maintain a recovered Yellowstone grizzly population without the ESA’s staunch protections.

As to the first issue, we affirm the district court’s ruling that the Service failed to articulate a rational connection between the data in the record and its determination that whitebark pine declines were not a threat to the Yellowstone grizzly, given the lack of data indicating grizzly population stability in the face of such declines, and the substantial data indicating a direct correlation between whitebark pine seed availability and grizzly survival and reproduction. As to the second issue, we reverse the district court and hold that the Service’s determination regarding the adequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms was reasonable.”

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  1. Ingemar Johansson

    Hey, the polar bears seem to be doing all right.




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