The September 2009 decision from Judge Donald Malloy in federal court held that because of changing climate change in the greater Yellowstone region grizzlies deserved continued protection; he further held that the Bush Administration was misguided in its 2007 assertion that the bear population had rebounded to the point where it did not warrant protection. Instead of thriving after an “amazing” population comeback, Molloy ruled, the bears face long-term dangers because the potential loss of food sources like whitebark pine nuts due to global climate changes; those dangers are more than enough to warranted a continued protected status for grizzlies in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.
The biggest issue facing the grizzlies: the loss of whitebark pine nuts as a food source. Basically, whitebark pine trees are decreasing in number because of climate change: beetles that normally would be killed off in winter are now surviving because of warmer temperatures, and as these pests thrive whitebarks suffer.
The appeal from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service argues that there are still adequate protections for the grizzly if it is delisted and that there’s not enough scientific evidence to prove there’s a substantial loss of whitebark pine nuts.
Image courtesy of the National Park Service.