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Ruling Reverses 'Threatened' Classification For Cabinet-Yaak Grizzlies

Public Domain

A judge has ruled a small population of grizzly bears in Montana and Idaho near the Canadian border can be considered "endangered" even if they are not "on the brink of extinction."

U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen's order Monday reversed the 2014 re-classification by U.S. wildlife officials for the 40 to 50 bears of the Cabinet-Yaak bear population under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said then that the bear population had stabilized. USFWS also said the status should be "threatened" but not on a waiting list for classification as "endangered."

Mike Garrity is the Executive Director of the conservation group, Alliance for the Wild Rockies. Judge Christensen sided with Garrity’s organization after they sued the USFWS.

"Judge Christensen ordered them to review their decision and see if they should list it as endangered, and we’re going to encourage them to do it. And since all the evidence and their own experts say they should — and if they don’t follow their own advice and law we will sue them again."

The bears live about 300 miles from grizzlies that lost federal protection status in July near Yellowstone National Park.

Kay Erickson has been working in broadcasting in Billings for more than 20 years. She spent well over a decade as news assignment editor at KTVQ-TV before joining the staff at YPR. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a degree in broadcast journalism. Shortly after graduation she worked in Great Falls where she was one of the first female sports anchor and reporter in Montana.