U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Interior Department is once again facing change in agency leadership. The acting head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has stepped down. 

A year and a half into the Trump presidency and several federal land agencies do not have directors—

including the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Former land managers say the lack of leadership has grave consequences for the future of public lands.


 


Over the next few weeks, we're going to take you on a tour of some of our favorite public lands.  

Most people visit Curt Gowdy State Park in Southeastern Wyoming for the world-class mountain biking, reservoirs filled with rainbow trout, and hikes through steep granite formations.

But entomologist Christy Bell comes for the bees.

Public lands facilities around the nation are cutting budgets and staff. But in the Mountain West region, cutbacks at Montana's National Bison Refuge are prompting accusations of a political vendetta by regional U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service managers. 

In a flurry of lawsuits stretching across the West, conservation groups are accusing the federal government of failing to protect a rare bird: the sage grouse. This week, the groups involved in one of those lawsuits came to a legal truce.

When federal protections were lifted for the Yellowstone-area grizzly bear last year, conservation groups quickly got to work to reverse that decision. One of those attempts was recently thwarted when U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced they would not restore protections after a months-long review.

A recent aerial survey revealed there are only three wild caribou left in the contiguous United States. Biologists say the chances to save them are slim, but an international recovery team is still trying.

Before the 19th century, thousands of woodland caribou ranged from Washington to New England. But then those herds were decimated by overhunting, logging and broken-up habitat.

Now you can count the number of wild caribou left in the Lower 48 on one hand. They live in the Selkirk Mountains of northern Idaho.

The Trump administration is proposing a major rule that could potentially weaken Endangered Species Act protections.


Nate Hegyi / YPR

In central Montana, drones are dropping peanut butter pellets on prairie dog colonies. It’s part of of an effort by biologists at the UL Bend National Wildlife Refuge to save North America’s most endangered mammal.

The Interior Department Thursday said it will lift Endangered Species Act protections for grizzly bears in the Yellowstone National Park region.

Those protections have been in place for more than 40 years.

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