Judge Blocks First Yellowstone-Area Grizzly Hunt in 40 Years

A federal judge on Thursday halted the first Yellowstone-area grizzly bear trophy hunts in four decades.

Wyoming and Idaho's grizzly hunt was set to begin this Saturday, Sept. 1 and would have allowed a potential kill of 23 bears outside of Yellowstone National Park.

But U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen in Missoula, Montana granted a 14-day restraining order on the hunt, siding with wildlife advocates and Native American tribes who sued U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) after its June 2017 decision to delist grizzly bears in the greater Yellowstone area from protections under the Endangered Species Act.

Christensen wrote that the hunt would cause irreparable harm to the animals "because once a member of an endangered species has been injured, the task of preserving that species becomes all the more difficult."

Earthjustice, an environmental law nonprofit, filed the temporary restraining order on behalf of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity and National Park Conservation Association.

"As we explained to the judge today, the removal of protections for Yellowstone's iconic grizzlies was illegal. The bears should not be killed in a hunting season made possible by an illegal government decision," said Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso in a press release.

As EcoWatch previously reported, more than 200 tribal nations opposed the hunt, saying the bears are sacred to their culture, and want to move the bears to tribal lands.

"It's essential to protecting our religious and spiritual freedoms, and treaty rights in Yellowstone," Stan Grier, chief of the Piikani Nation and president of the Blackfoot Confederacy Chiefs told Reuters. "This sacred being is considered to be a deity by many tribes, not a rug."

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