FILE - This June 20, 2014 file photo taken by an automatic trail camera provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows an adult female grizzly bear in the Cabinet Mountains in northwest Montana near Canada. A federal judge ruled Monday, Aug. 21, 2017 that the small population of grizzly bears in Montana and Idaho near the Canadian border can be considered endangered even if they are not on the brink of extinction. U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen’s order reversed the 2014 re-classification by U.S. wildlife officials for 40 to 50 bears of the Cabinet-Yaak bear population under the federal Endangered Species Act. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP, File)

Judge: Bears near US-Canada border merit endangered status

August 23, 2017 - 1:56 pm

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A judge has ruled a small population of grizzly bears in Montana and Idaho near the Canadian border can be considered endangered even if they are not on the brink of extinction.

U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen's order Tuesday reversed the 2014 re-classification by U.S. wildlife officials for the 40-50 bears of the Cabinet-Yaak bear population under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said then that the bear population had stabilized and that its status should be "threatened" but not on a waiting list for classification as endangered.

The conservation group Alliance for the Wild Rockies sued and Christensen sided with the group.

The bears live about 300 miles (480 kilometers) from grizzlies near Yellowstone National Park that lost federal protection status in July.

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This version corrects that the judge issued the ruling on Tuesday, not Monday.

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