An environmental group is suing the federal government, arguing that the grizzly recovery plan is outdated. On June 27, the Center for Biological Diversity (the “Center”) filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Missoula, MT, which would require deadlines “to update the plan,” evaluate “the need to pursue recovery in areas with suitable habitat” and require “an updated grizzly status review,” the Capital Press reports. The Center says that the 110,000 square miles of “potential habitat” in the Lower 48 would allow the grizzly population to grow exponentially, tripling from 2,000 to 6,000.
“Grizzlies now live in just a small fraction of the lands they once roamed, but there’s great habitat in the West where these magnificent animals could once again survive,” said Collette Adkins, the Center’s carnivore conservation director, in a news release.
According to the Center’s press release, prior to the Trump presidency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service “acknowledged the need for a new recovery plan” because the old plan, which was created in 1993, “no longer reflected best available science and needed to be updated to consider additional recovery areas.” The Center says that rather than help grizzly bears, the Trump administration is majorly hindering any efforts. According to the Capital Press, the Center believes that potential grizzly bear habitat is located in the Selway-Bitteroot in Idaho and Montana, the North Cascades of Washington, Utah’s Uinta Mountains, California’s Sierra Nevada and the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Additional habitat could be found in southern Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Colorado, California, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, but still needs to “be evaluated.”
“We’re hoping this lawsuit will push the agency to finally follow the law and do more for grizzly bears,” said Adkins. “The bears have made progress in and around Yellowstone and Glacier national parks, but we need a plan for their recovery in more places.”