A grizzly bear and a cub in Yellowstone National Park. Photo: Frank van Manen / U.S. Geological Survey
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Northern Cheyenne Tribe challenges Trump administration on grizzly bears

The Northern Cheyenne Tribe is planning to sue the Trump administration for removing protections for grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park.

The tribe joined environmental groups in submitting a 60-day notice to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke on Friday. The coalition says U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ignored evidence submitted by Chairman Jace Killsback regarding the need to keep the bears listed under the Endangered Species Act.

“The decision to prematurely strip grizzly bears of endangered species protections is an affront to tribal nations and their repeated calls for consultation,” Bonnie Rice from the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America campaign said in a press release. “If allowed to move forward, this decision to once again put politics before science could set grizzly bear recovery back by decades.”

Tribes repeatedly complained about the lack of adequate consultation. Many believe delisting will lead to hunting of the animals in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Hunting led to declines in the population and state officials are interested in restarting them.

Although discussions regarding the status of the grizzlies began during the Obama administration, it was Zinke who announced the delisting June 22. He did so only hours after promising to consult tribes about decisions that affect their interests.

A notice published in the June 30 issue of the Federal Register announces a final rule for the Yellowstone grizzlies. It becomes effective on July 31.

The 515-page document acknowledges the importance of the bear in tribal cultures. But it said the Endangered Species Act requires decision to be based on "science."

"We considered issues of cultural, spiritual, and ecological importance that tribes raised and we are sensitive to those concerns," the notice reads.

"However, the Act requires the Service to make decisions based on the biological status of the species as informed solely by the best scientific and commercial data available," it continues.

Federal Register Notice:
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removing the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Population of Grizzly Bears From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (June 30, 2017)

Relevant Documents:
Press Release: Secretary Zinke Announces Recovery and Delisting of Yellowstone Grizzly Bear
Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Final Rule to Federal Register

Related Stories:
States cheer decision on grizzly bears amid tribal concerns about hunts (June 23, 2017)
Secretary Zinke removes protections for grizzlies over tribal objections (June 22, 2017)