BOZEMAN, MT — A federal district court has ordered Endangered Species Act protections reinstated for grizzly bears in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. The decision was based in part on the fact that one of the bear's primary food sources, the whitebark pine, is disappearing as a result of global warming.
After the Fish and Wildlife Service decided to remove grizzlies from the Endangered Species list in 2007, more than 40% of bear range in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem received no habitat protection. According to the Sierra Club, nearly 2 million acres of high-quality habitat were opened to increased motorized access, more than 630,000 acres were opened for logging, and more than 850,000 acres were opened to oil and gas development. The resulting effect and warmer temperatures have spurred the mountain pine beetles, which are wiping out the bear's key food source of whitebark pine seeds.
According to a statement by Sierra Club Deputy Executive Director Bruce Hamilton, “With federal protections in place, the Fish and Wildlife Service can now develop a new bear recovery plan that addresses the impacts of global warming. The grizzly bear is one of the lasting icons of America's wild legacy. Today's decision will help ensure that future generations have the chance to experience the awe of this magnificent wild creature.”
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