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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Latest on court case that will decide if Yellowstone-area grizzly bears should retain federal protections (all times local):
U.S. officials are asking a federal appeals court to overturn part of a judge's ruling that blocked the first grizzly bear hunts in the Lower 48 states in almost three decades.
The case before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals involves more than 700 grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park.
Government attorneys said Friday that a lower court judge was wrong to require officials to review the status of grizzlies everywhere before lifting protections for bruins in the Yellowstone Region.
The attorneys said the government already is working on addressing other issues raised by U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen.
That includes whether sufficient safeguards are in place to keep the bears from sliding toward extinction if states take over management of the animals.
Wildlife officials say grizzly bear numbers are holding steady in the U.S. Northern Rockies as plans to hunt the animals remain mired in a legal dispute.
A Friday U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report said there are more than 700 bears in the Yellowstone region of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.
More than 1,000 occupy northwestern Montana including Glacier National Park.
Both populations are considered recovered after being decimated by hunting and trapping early last century. But they also experience high death rates amid conflicts with humans and livestock.
About 130 grizzlies roam areas of northern Idaho, northeastern Washington and southern British Columbia.
The U.S. least year lifted federal protections for Yellowstone bears, which would have allowed hunting in Idaho and Wyoming. A judge reversed the move and an appeal is pending.
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