Grizzly Bears Regain Federal Protection
Earlier this week, a federal district court ordered that grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem again receive protections under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stripped the grizzly of its protections in 2007. When that occurred, the bear lost all protections on more than 40 percent of its range in the region. 2 million acres of its habitat was opened to increased motorized access, 850,000 acres were opened to oil and gas development, and 630,000 acres were opened to logging. As of last Tuesday, these lands must again be managed for the protection of the bears as "threatened."
Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
This decision was based in no small part on the fact that one of the bear's primary food source is in danger due to climate change. The whitebark pine produces seeds that are extremely high in fat. The bears depend on these seeds every year to help them prepare for the long months of hibernation. However, with temperatures climbing, an unprecedented wave of mountain pine beetles are decimating the tree. Grizzly bears need protection and space to cope with this huge alteration in their diet and help them adapt. This decision will help ensure that the bears receive that protection.
Read the Sierra Club press release.