Court restores federal protections for Yellowstone grizzly bears

A federal appeals court, citing the effect of climate change on the Yellowstone grizzly bears’ white-bark food source, finds that the Fish and Wildlife Service erred when it delisted the bears.

The ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2007 decision to remove the bears from the endangered species list. The court cited climate change as having accelerated a beetle infestation that destroys the bears’ vital white-bark pine food source, making the grizzly only the second wildlife species, after the polar bear, to earn protection in recognition of harm caused by global warming.

A grizzly bear sow and three cubs in Yellowstone National Park. The appellate court opinion described Yellowstone grizzlies as “one of the American West’s most iconic wild animals.” (National Park Service / March 27, 2006)