A conservation group is suing the federal government for failing to reclassify a small population of grizzly bears as endangered.
The estimated 42 Cabinet-Yaak grizzly bears in northwestern Montana are considered a threatened species.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last year issued a decision that said changing the bears' status from threatened to endangered was warranted but precluded by higher-priority species.
The Alliance for the Wild Rockies says in its lawsuit filed Tuesday the population needs to be at least 100 to be considered viable.
The group says an endangered species classification would require federal officials to designate critical habitat for the bears to aid with their recovery.
The lawsuit argues the "endangered-but-precluded" designation is a loophole that allows federal officials to delay their obligations.