Judge Winmill holds feds to sage grouse deal

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has wanted to back out of a court mediated deal to conduct and complete a “status review” on the sage grouse by May 2009. A status review looks at the the scientific literature to see if adding a species to the endangered or threatened species list is warranted.

Earlier the USFWS had denied listing the rapidly declining bird, but that was during the Julie MacDonald period at the Department of Interior. Western Watersheds Project, represented by Advocates for the West sued and Idaho federal judge Winmill overturned their denial due to MacDonald’s political meddling on behalf of her industry friends.

USFWS has wanted to make a decision before Dec. 2008 because then it would be under control of the Bush Administration.

A status review is supposed to use the best scientific information available in making a decision, and a major scientific report on the sage grouse is due to come out in late 2008. Cynics would say they would like to make a decison before then not just because Bush will still be in office, but they won’t have to consider these new findings.

Story in the Casper Star Tribune. Judge holds feds to grouse deal. By Todd Dvorak. Associated Press writer

Winter season ending at Yellowstone Park

Park’s winter season wrapping up. Yellowstone Park news release

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