A Bitterroot to Swallow
After years of debate, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said yesterday that it would reintroduce grizzly bears into the Bitterroot Mountains of western Montana and central Idaho beginning in 2002. The reintroduced bears would have less protection than other grizzlies in the wild, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Building on a partnership between forest industry groups and enviros, the feds plan to establish a 15-member citizen advisory committee for the reintroduction project. But Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne (R) and Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo (R) remain adamantly opposed to the whole reintroduction plan, and the feds acknowledge that the next administration and Congress may not fund it. Kempthorne said he may go to court to block the reintroduction of “massive, flesh-eating carnivores” into the state.