U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Public lands facilities around the nation are cutting budgets and staff. But in the Mountain West region, cutbacks at Montana's National Bison Refuge are prompting accusations of a political vendetta by regional U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service managers. 

In a flurry of lawsuits stretching across the West, conservation groups are accusing the federal government of failing to protect a rare bird: the sage grouse. This week, the groups involved in one of those lawsuits came to a legal truce.

When federal protections were lifted for the Yellowstone-area grizzly bear last year, conservation groups quickly got to work to reverse that decision. One of those attempts was recently thwarted when U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced they would not restore protections after a months-long review.

A recent aerial survey revealed there are only three wild caribou left in the contiguous United States. Biologists say the chances to save them are slim, but an international recovery team is still trying.

Before the 19th century, thousands of woodland caribou ranged from Washington to New England. But then those herds were decimated by overhunting, logging and broken-up habitat.

Now you can count the number of wild caribou left in the Lower 48 on one hand. They live in the Selkirk Mountains of northern Idaho.

The Trump administration is proposing a major rule that could potentially weaken Endangered Species Act protections.


Nate Hegyi / YPR

In central Montana, drones are dropping peanut butter pellets on prairie dog colonies. It’s part of of an effort by biologists at the UL Bend National Wildlife Refuge to save North America’s most endangered mammal.

The Interior Department Thursday said it will lift Endangered Species Act protections for grizzly bears in the Yellowstone National Park region.

Those protections have been in place for more than 40 years.

Montana, Wyoming and Idaho officials say they won't declare open season on grizzly bears once federal Endangered Species Act protections are lifted for them in the Yellowstone National Park region.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Thursday announced that it plans to de-list Yellowstone Grizzlies at the end of July. That means that the three states surrounding the park will take over jurisdiction of Yellowstone-area bears. Those states have already submitted management plans that allow for limited hunting.

Livestock death is part of ranching. At some point, ranchers have to deal with dead animals, from things like difficult births, disease, and weather extremes. And in southwest Montana, those dead animals can also attract unwelcome visitors — wolves and black bears looking for an easy meal.

State and federal wildlife officials are investigating the shooting death of a male grizzly bear west of Whitefish.

Investigators with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks say the 4-year-old bear’s body was dumped over the Farm to Market Road bridge and into the Stillwater River sometime between May 25 and 28. It was then found downstream by recreationalists and retrieved by officials last Sunday.

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