Several lawsuits were filed Friday against the U.S. government's decision to lift protections for grizzly bears in the Yellowstone National Park area. Some of the groups involved include the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, The Humane Society and Earthjustice.
Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso says there’s been a recent spike in local grizzly bear deaths.
"What we’ve seen in the Yellowstone region is that as the bears’ traditional food sources have been wiped out — in some cases by invasive species, in some cases by climate change – the bears have been forced to shift to a predominately meat-based diet," Preso says.
And according to Preso, that means more of Yellowstone’s grizzlies are getting into deadly confrontations with hunters and other bears.
Some of the groups say the decision to lift grizzly bear protections this summer is flawed because it only involves Yellowstone rather than the West as a whole.
Yellowstone grizzlies were listed as a threatened species in 1975 when only 136 bears roamed there.
There are now an estimated 700 grizzlies in the region that includes northwestern Wyoming, southwestern Montana and eastern Idaho.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to turn over grizzly bear management to those states by late July.
The Justice Department today declined comment on the legal challenges to the de-listing plan.