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Yellowstone grizzlies losing protection

Allen BestVail, CO Colorado

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. Grizzly bears in Wyoming are being taken off from the endangered species list. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service says there are enough grizzlies now after 30 years of protection under federal laws. Hunting seasons conducted under Wyoming state laws could occur as early as 2008.The bears in Wyoming are limited to the Yellowstone ecosystem, but with some as far south as the Wind River Range.An endangered species is one that is likely to become extinct, and a threatened species is one that is likely to become endangered, said Chris Servheen, U.S. Fish and Wildlife grizzly bear recovery coordinator. The grizzly bear is neither one of these.Conservation groups think the de-listing is premature, especially in light of new evidence of climate change. If traditional food sources in Yellowstone become more scarce, due to warmer weather, the bears will go to lower elevations, where conflicts with people will become more common. They want the terrain of the bears expanded to include other mountain ranges in Wyoming.Servheen disagrees. He says the lawsuit being readied by the group will ultimately be harmful to the cause of endangered species. The Endangered Species Act really needs success stories to demonstrate that the act works, he told the Jackson Hole News&Guide.

CRESTED BUTTE The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a case involving 155 acres of land near Crested Butte that the Bureau of Land Management has transferred to a mining company. The decision, however, was no surprise to anybody.It was a long-shot at best, Crested Butte Mayor Alan Bernholtz said of the effort by various parties, including the town, to overturn the transfer of land to Phelps Dodge Corporation. Phelps Dodge has since transferred the land to another mining company, U.S. Energy.The case has been underway for decades owing to a deposit of molybdenum within the bowels of Mt. Emmons described as world class. Amax pursued the ore deposit in the 1970s, but put the project on hold after the price of molybdenum plummeted in 1980 and 1981.The surging world economy in recent years has resulted in fast-escalating prices for all building materials. Molybdenum strengthens steel, among its dozens of other uses.Does this mean that U.S. Energy will soon start burrowing into Mt. Emmons? Don’t count on it, say opponents. While Phelps Dodge now owns the land without dispute, getting a permit to mine the land is another matter. The Crested Butte News reports the company is currently creating an operations plan.


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