Judge restores protections for grizzly bears, blocking hunts

Rodiano Bonacci
Settembre 25, 2018

The move means that a controversial sport hunt of grizzlies in Wyoming and Idaho - outside the boundaries of the park - will be canceled indefinitely, extending protections against hunting that have lasted 44 years.

A key argument made by Preso and his colleagues is that as an island population of grizzlies, isolated and cut off from other clusters of bears, the Yellowstone bruins face ongoing challenges.

The judge's decision says that the federal government can't split up the grizzly population into smaller segments without considering the health of the species as a whole.

In an interview in Wyoming last week, the celebrated naturalist Jane Goodall also spoke out in support of the bears.

The Yellowstone-area grizzly was removed from federal protections under the Endangered Species Act previous year.

"The significance is that now grizzly bears truly have a chance to recover".

Jennifer Strickland, a spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said, "In light of the court's ruling, management of these grizzly bears returns to the federal government, a dn we will work with the state and tribes to ensure that this transition proceeds in accordance with the court's order".

U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen said his decision had nothing to do with the ethics of hunting.

The superintendent of Yellowstone national park, Dan Wenk, who is stepping down after 43 years, expressed concern last weekend at his retirement party about the safety of grizzlies that wander beyond park boundaries and could be killed by hunters, like the infamous case of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe.

Christensen found that the Fish and Wildlife Service had failed to apply the best available science, as required under the law, in evaluating continued threats to grizzly populations, including limitations in its genetic diversity. In his 47-page opinion, Christensen called the agency's reasoning "illogical".

Native American tribes, which revere the grizzly as sacred, sought reinstatement of its threatened status as essential to protecting their religious practices. "Today, we celebrate this victory and will continue to advocate on behalf of the Yellowstone grizzly bears until the population is recovered", said Lawrence Killsback, president of the Northern Cheyenne Nation.

Local ranchers argue the animals are killing their livestock and point to a growing number of attacks on people.

The judge said he discounted such factors. Instead, it turned strictly on his determination that the Fish and Wildlife Service had exceeded its authority.

"Grizzly bear recovery should be viewed as a conservation success story", Mead said in a statement.

Tim Preso, an attorney with EarthJustice who represented numerous plaintiffs, said Christensen's ruling made clear that the government had moved too hastily to remove protections because bears are absent from much of their historical range.

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