JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Conservationists worried that continued livestock grazing in a Wyoming forest could endanger grizzly bears are preparing to sue the U.S. government.
Western Watersheds Project, Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Yellowstone to Uintas Connection allege a 2019 decision to allow grazing to continue in a large area of Bridger-Teton National Forest violates the Endangered Species Act.
The groups filed notice Tuesday they intend to sue the U.S. Forest Service within 60 days.
Forest officials decided in October to allow livestock grazing to continue on over 260 square miles (690 square kilometers) in the Green River headwaters.
As many as 72 grizzly bears could be killed for harassing or killing livestock over a decade without causing harm to the greater Yellowstone region’s grizzly population, biologists found.
The groups question the finding and grazing decision.
“There’s simply no way to justify the killing of 72 grizzly bears due to conflict with domestic livestock on public lands,” Mike Garrity, executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, said in a release.
The U.S. Forest Service is reviewing the notification, Bridger-Teton spokeswoman Mary Cernicek said.
Federal officials have concluded that the Yellowstone region’s population of over 700 grizzlies is large enough to justify lifting the animals’ protection under the Endangered Species Act.
A federal judge in Montana in 2018 overturned a decision to declassify Yellowstone’s grizzlies as a threatened species. Montana, Idaho and Wyoming officials are appealing the court ruling.