By: Heather Baltes
In Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Inc. v. Servheen, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to remove the Yellowstone grizzly population from the threatened species list for failing to articulate a rational connection between the available data and its conclusion that whitebark pine declines were unlikely to threaten the Yellowstone grizzly bear. The court affirmed the district court’s decision explaining that, based on information included in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s final rule, it cannot be reasonably denied that whitebark pine loss presents at least a potential threat to the Yellowstone grizzly population. The court reversed the district court’s determination that there were inadequate existing regulatory mechanisms to protect the Yellowstone grizzly population. Specifically, the court found National Forest Plans and National Park Compendia can serve as adequate regulatory mechanisms for protecting a delisted species. A partial dissent suggested the National Forest Plans and National Park Compendia were inadequate regulatory mechanisms because they did not have the force of law.
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