A federal judge in Montana has blocked the Trump Administration’s attempt to allow grizzly bear hunting in and around Yellowstone National Park. The bear will remain protected under the Endangered Species Act ahead of the planned fall hunting season.
According to USA Today, U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to allow grizzly hunts in the Greater Yellowstone area put the bears in undue danger of inbreeding and eventual extinction. In his decision, Christensen wrote that the organization “illegally negotiated away its obligation to apply the best available science in order to reach an accommodation with the states of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana.”
Wyoming had granted permission for hunters to kill up 22 grizzlies this fall, and Idaho had capped its limit at one bear (together, these represented the first grizzly hunt in the lower 48 states since 1991, according to NBC). Christensen’s decision put a halt to both hunts.
Judge Christensen noted that before European settlement there were up to 50,000 grizzlies living throughout North America; now there are an estimated 700 bears roaming the Yellowstone area. With this ruling, the bears are again entitled to protection and conservation under the Endangered Species regulation. Attorney Tim Preso argued the case on behalf of the bears. In a statement, he pointed out why this decision is so important.
“The grizzly is a big part of why the Yellowstone region remains among our nation’s last great wild places,” he said. “This is a victory for the bears and for people from all walks of life who come to this region to see the grizzly in its natural place in the world.”
Read the full court decision here.
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