Grassroots groups ask court to block grazing in Wyo. grizzly habitat

This is an update to an ongoing lawsuit I’m involved with through the Alliance for the Wild Rockies.

We filed for a PI (preliminary injunction) today. It’s a fight we just couldn’t walk away from. The idea that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could permit 72 grizzlies to be murdered so cattle can graze on national forest land — public land — is must too much to take from federal agency killers. The article was pasted because it resides behind a paywall. The information is in the public interest, IMO, with no intention to gain any financial advantage for me, the Alliance, or POM. Today’s news!

Scott Streater, E&E News reporterPublished: Friday, May 8, 2020 

Grizzly bear. Photo credit: Forest Service

A grizzly bear at Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming. Forest Service

A coalition of environmental groups wants a federal court to block a Forest Service grazing plan in Bridger-Teton National Forest that authorizes killing dozens of threatened grizzly bears in the name of protecting livestock.

The groups also asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to prevent livestock herding through a section of the Wyoming national forest that contains the world’s only known habitat for the endangered Kendall Warm Springs dace.

The groups — the Western Watersheds Project, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, and Yellowstone to Uintas Connection — filed the preliminary injunction request with the court today.

The request is part of a March 31 lawsuit filed by the groups challenging approval of the grazing plan by the Forest Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club filed a separate lawsuit challenging the plan (Greenwire, March 31). The two groups involved in that lawsuit have not requested an injunction from the court, said John Persell, staff attorney with the Western Watersheds Project.

The groups in today’s preliminary injunction request say it is needed because the authorized grazing on six allotments in the national forest is set to begin June 14.

The Forest Service approved the Upper Green River Area Rangeland Project last year; it authorizes 10-year livestock grazing permits on “suitable grizzly bear habitat” in the forest, according to the injunction request.

FWS issued a biological opinion and “incidental take statement” allowing the “lethal removal” of up to 72 bears over the next decade, according to the request. “Three bears have already been killed pursuant to this authorization,” it says.

“It’s unthinkable that the government would allow so many grizzlies to be killed merely for the sake of livestock grazing on the national forest,” Persell said.

FWS is currently reviewing the status of the grizzly, last listed as threatened under ESA in 2011 (Greenwire, Jan. 13).

“Grizzlies are still listed under the Endangered Species Act because they are still at risk,” Persell added. “Killing so many bears, including an unspecified number of females, reverses the species’ recovery and is contrary to law.”

The Forest Service has noted that livestock grazing is authorized on Bridger-Teton and is important to the economic wellbeing of local communities.

The Upper Green River Area Rangeland Project allows 8,722 cow/calf pairs and 47 horses to graze on the six allotments at issue from June 14 through Oct. 15 for the next decade, the injunction request says.

The Forest Service formally consulted with FWS, which eventually issued a biological opinion that concluded killing 72 grizzlies over 10 years would not harm the overall population.

The plan also authorizes “cattle herding through the only known habitat for the Kendall Warm Springs dace,” the injunction request says. FWS conducted a biological opinion that concluded the grazing plan would “not likely adversely affect” the endangered fish.

But, according to the injunction request, “both USFS and FWS acknowledged cattle herding through the Kendall Warm Springs exclosure will alter dace habitat.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s