U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen has ordered federal protections to be restored for grizzly bears.
This is a move that will block the planned grizzly hunt this fall in both Wyoming and Idaho.
Christensen wrote in his ruling the case was not “about the ethics of hunting.” Saying it was about whether federal officials adequately considered threats to the bears long-term recovery.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Governor Matt Mead quickly responded this evening, releasing this statement:
Today, a federal judge ruled against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and overturned the Service’s action to remove grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the endangered species list. This means grizzly bears in Wyoming are now under federal management.
Questions related to the review of the judge’s decision will be handled by the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office.
Governor Matt Mead issued this response, “I am disappointed with today’s decision. Grizzly bear recovery should be viewed as a conservation success story. Due to Wyoming’s investment of approximately $50 million for recovery and management, grizzly bears have exceeded every scientifically established recovery criteria in the GYE since 2003. Numbers have risen from as few as 136 bears when they were listed in 1975, to more than 700 today.
“Biologists correctly determined grizzly bears no longer needed ESA protections,” Governor Mead noted. “The decision to return grizzly bears to the list of threatened and endangered species is further evidence that the ESA is not working as its drafters intended. Congress should modernize the ESA so we can celebrate successes and focus our efforts on species in need.”
“This is unfortunate. Game and Fish is a strong proponent of all wildlife management being led by people who live in this state and having management decisions made at the local level,” said Scott Talbott, director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
All law enforcement involving grizzly bears will be led by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, though Game and Fish will provide assistance as needed as the agency has in the past.