Volume 7, Number 3 - April 12, 2007
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Grizzly suit expected
Conservation groups took the first steps last week to keep protections in place for Yellowstone's grizzly bears. Eight conservation groups, represented by Earthjustice, filed a notice with the federal government of their intent to sue to restore Endangered Species Act protections to the bears. The government intends to lift those protections on April 30.
Most conservation groups and scientists oppose the move to lift the protections, citing evidence that Yellowstone's grizzlies face a troubling future because of global warming. Yellowstone grizzlies depend on the seeds produced by the whitebark pine tree as a main food source used to fatten up before winter hibernation. Global warming is causing beetles to kill this key grizzly food source at alarming rates.
The conservation groups filing the notice of intent to sue Tuesday were the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Humane Society of the United States, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watershed Project, Great Bear Foundation and the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Wolf Recovery Coordinator Ed Bangs reported this week he has been working on a proposed modification to the 2005 experimental population 10j rule that would make it easier for states and tribes with approved wolf management plans to remove (kill) wolves that were impacting wild ungulate populations. The modification would also allow anyone to kill any wolf that was attacking riding or pack animals or dogs. Once the proposal is completed, it will be published in the Federal Register and public comment and review will be solicited, Bangs noted. After public comment is analyzed, it may be finalized.
According to Bangs, the modification would only allow the killing of wolves that were impacting game populations in state with approved management plans and at least 20 breeding pairs and 200 wolves.
FWS’s most recent estimate for the number of wolves in Wyoming is 311, with 10 breeding pairs in Yellowstone National Park and 15 pairs in the state outside the park.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission will meet April 24-25 in the agency’s Casper regional office and among its agenda items will be a presentation on instream flows. The presentation will be made by Tom Annear at 8:30 a.m. on April 25. Most of the commission’s first day of meeting will be focused on hunting seasons for various game species in the state, as well as a review of the agency’s finances and proposed budget.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued a ruling in the case of Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decisively rejecting the Bush administration’s inaction on global warming. In a 5-4 vote, the High Court sided with the Sierra Club, 12 states, three cities and the other petitioners in the case by agreeing that carbon dioxide and other global warming pollutants can be regulated under the Clean Air Act (CAA).
In the majority opinion, the court ruled that carbon dioxide and other global warming pollutants meet the definition of "air pollutant[s]" under the plain language of the CAA. This ruling, in and of itself, does not compel EPA to issue regulations limiting the emissions of global warming pollutants. However, the CAA states that EPA "shall regulate" any air pollutant "reasonably anticipated" to endanger "public health or welfare," which includes effects upon "climate or weather."
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