Lawsuit filed over grizzlies killed by BNSF trains

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The Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway is being sued by two environmental groups who contend the railway’s trains are violating the Endangered Species Act by running over and killing grizzle bears on the tracks.

One of the groups isWildEarth Guardians, based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The other is Western Watershed Project based in Idaho. They contend the killing of the bears is on federally protected grounds in Idaho and Montana.

Both groups demand that BNSF, the same railway that operates throughout Oklahoma, should change operating scheduled or train speeds along more than 200 miles of rail in the Northern Continental Divide and the Cabinet-Yaak regions. Both are in the region known as the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem which includes several national forests and on the southern border of the popular Glacier National Park.

Burlington Northern is working on a habitat conservation plan but it doesn’t include any changes in the speed of its locomotives or schedules.

The environmental groups are worried because BNSF plans to add the Montana Rail Link to its network and they fear such a move will threaten more grizzly bears.

“We are extremely disappointed that, after all these years, BNSF has refused to change its business practices to prevent the unnecessary deaths of Montana’s iconic grizzlies, resulting in the tragic deaths of three bears just this fall,” Sarah McMillan, wildlife and wildlands program director at the Western Environmental Law Center in Missoula, Montana, said in a release reported Freight Waves.

How many bears were killed buy BNSF trains? The lawsuit contends 52 grizzlies were run over by trains from 2008 to 2018. Eight were killed in 2019.

The lawsuit against BNSF was filed in the Missoula division of the federal court for the District of Montana.