BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Wildlife advocates are seeking a court order that would force U.S. officials to consider if grizzly bears should be restored to more Western states following the animals’ resurgence in the Northern Rockies.
Grizzly bears are protected as a threatened species outside Alaska. An estimated 1,900 bears live in portions of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington state.
In a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Montana, the Center for Biological Diversity said grizzlies should also be considered for areas of California, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and Oregon.
The request comes after environmentalists successfully sued last year to block grizzly hunts planned in Wyoming and Idaho.
Federal officials have appealed the ruling. They want to lift protections for about 700 bears in and around Yellowstone National Park.