9 Sep 2010, 11:28am
Latest Wildlife News
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Wolf, grizzly bear cases set back progress, biologists, managers say

By ROB CHANEY, the Missoulian, August 29, 2010 [here]

Wolves and bears don’t behave well in courtrooms.

But the two big predators are likely to spend the next 18 months there as their advocates and enemies try to untangle them from the federal Endangered Species Act.

Last week, Montana wildlife managers decided to appeal U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy’s Aug. 5 decision placing the gray wolf back under federal protection. Meanwhile, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials in Missoula appealed another Molloy ruling that prevented state management of Yellowstone ecosystem grizzly bears.

No one knows how the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will settle the two lawsuits. But wildlife managers for both wolves and bears fear that years of cooperation and compromise in the woods may wither while the animals’ fate is debated - and ultimately decided - on paper.

“If people look in and realize how difficult it is for agencies to work together on anything, they would realize incredible steps were made,” said Gregg Losinski, an Idaho Department of Fish and Game official who is part of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Committee. “All the mechanisms were there for bear recovery - that was the frustrating thing. This relisting put things back 20 years.”

Molloy’s 2009 decision blocked a FWS plan to let states manage about 600 grizzlies living around Yellowstone National Park.

His wolf ruling earlier this summer canceled public wolf hunts in Montana and Idaho for the 2010 season. Montana officials hoped hunters would kill 186 wolves and bring the state’s population down to about 450 animals. Wolves are blamed for both falling elk and deer numbers and growing domestic livestock attacks. …

Chris Servheen sounds equally frustrated. The head of the federal government’s grizzly bear recovery program fears the bears he’s spent decades trying to save may have turned a bad corner.

“It really breeds mistrust in the public and amongst all the agencies that do the work when we go to court,” Servheen said. “We’ve seen it with the wolves, where people become angry and less likely to support these species. The law as it’s written provides the guidance we need to recover (a threatened species). That’s what we did with grizzly bears and that’s what we did with wolves.

“When courts add their own requirements to these laws, it makes it almost impossible to achieve success in these recovery areas. Legal blockage makes it difficult for the public to invest in it. They become suspicious and cynical about the whole thing. It poisons the well when courts intervene in these things.” … [more]



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