Grizzly plan sent back to drawing board

  A recent federal court ruling may delay plans to declare grizzly recovery in Yellowstone a success. U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman ruled Oct. 4 that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 1993 Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan lacks an adequate yardstick for measuring recovery of the species, which gained federal protection in 1975. Citing the plan's failure to monitor grizzly habitat, Friedman gave the Service 90 days to revise the plan. Currently, recovery is measured by counts of females with cubs and rates of human-caused deaths.

"If you list a species because of habitat loss, you can't write a recovery plan that doesn't address it," says Eric Glitzenstein, an attorney representing 20 environmental groups in the case. He predicts the ruling will delay plans to remove the Yellowstone grizzly population from the endangered species list, a move advocated by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. The department maintains that current population counts meet the recovery plan requirements.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has asked the court to reconsider its ruling, claiming that Friedman misread the plan, and that it actually meets his concerns. Glitzenstein warns that without substantial changes in the plan, "the Service will be buying itself more legal trouble."

*Warren Cornwall

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