Yellowstone NP Grizzly Bear Hunt Blocked For Now

At least as of today, Alaska remains the only state where you can hunt grizzlies.  A federal judge blocked a Trump administration plan to allow a grizzly bear hunt on lands in Wyoming and Idaho. Here’s more from the New York Post via the Asscoiated Press:

Wyoming and Idaho had been on the cusp of allowing hunters to kill up to 23 bears this fall. US District Judge Dana Christensen had twice delayed the hunts and the latest order blocking them was due to expire later this week. The hunts would have been the first in the US outside Alaska since 1991.

Christensen wrote in his ruling that the case was “not about the ethics of hunting.” Rather, he said, it was about whether federal officials adequately considered threats to the species’ long-term recovery when they lifted protections for more than 700 bears living around Yellowstone National Park.

In the judge’s view, the answer was no.

He noted that an estimated 50,000 bears once roamed the contiguous US and said it would be “simplistic at best and disingenuous at worst” not to consider the status of grizzlies outside the Yellowstone region, one of the few areas where they have bounced back.

The Sportsmen’s Alliance and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation put out a joint press release protesting the federal protection:

The Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation disagree with a judge’s decision to vacate the delisting of the Greater Yellowstone grizzly population by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The ruling places the population back on the endangered species list.

“Despite this ruling, the basic facts remain the same: grizzly bears in the Yellowstone area have recovered, and no longer meet the definition of threatened or endangered under the ESA and should be rightfully returned to state management,” said Evan Heusinkveld, Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation president and CEO. “This ruling is just another example of why we need comprehensive reforms to the way we manage ESA-listed species in this country. We are evaluating all of our legal options to appeal this ruling.”

The DOI announced the removal of Yellowstone area grizzlies, numbering more than 700, from the endangered species list in 2017 based on sound science and millions of hunter dollars spent on researching and studying the bears. Idaho and Wyoming later announced intentions to hold conservative management hunts in the fall of 2018. Those hunts will not take place.

“We are highly disappointed with this decision,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “Once again we see that extreme environmental groups continue to clog up the delisting process at a time when we should be celebrating the recovery of grizzlies in the region. Scientists gathered data and population numbers that show grizzlies in the region surpassed all recovery criteria and are recovered. This ruling bolsters the case for Congress to update the Endangered Species Act.”

Environmental groups claimed the grizzly population in the Yellowstone region would be decimated if delisted and placed under state management. They made the same claims for the Northern Rocky Mountain wolf population which is 200 to 400 percent above minimum recovery goals, depending on the state.

“State-based management of wildlife is a key facet of the North American Wildlife Conservation Model. That is why the most healthy and robust wildlife populations in the world are found in North America. Grizzlies, like elk, wolves, deer and all other wildlife, should be managed by the states for their overall betterment. This ruling thoroughly frustrates that process,” added Weaver.

This latest ruling follows a 2007 attempt by the Department of Interior (DOI) to delist Yellowstone grizzlies, a decision that was also litigated by environmental groups and subsequently overturned by the federal courts.

Here’s some Twitter reaction:

 

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