Trump Administration Appeals Judge's Ruling That Protects Grizzly Bears

The Trump Administration is appealing a federal judge's ruling that ended the country's first grizzly bear hunts in four decades and put the bruins back under endangered species protection.

Trump Administration Appeals Judge's Ruling That Protects Grizzly Bears

Montana's grizzly bear commission failed to offer recommendations about any hunting season in its report offered to the governor. 

A federal judge's ruling that blocked the country's first grizzly bear hunts in four decades and put the bruins back under endangered species protection is being appealed.

Attorneys for the Trump Administration filed notice of appeal on Dec. 21. It seeks to overturn U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen's ruling in October 2018 that the more than 700 bears in and around Yellowstone National Park could not be hunted and need federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The bears were put on the ESA list in the mid-1970s when their population was estimated to be between 130 and 140 bears in the Rocky Mountain region. Since then, more than 700 are believed to live in the area.

The bears were removed from the ESA protection in 2017 by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which said they had recovered enough to allow states to manage the species. Wyoming, Montana and Idaho immediately began making plans for possible hunting seasons based on decades of information compiled by their respective biologists and federal biologists.

Wyoming and Idaho were days away from the first hunting seasons in more than 40 years when Christensen blocked them. The controversial seasons were to be limited by a quota and reporting system. More than two weeks later, Christensen issued his ruling that the bears should be returned to federal protection because they had not recovered throughout their prior native range.

Opponents of the hunt cheered at the return of the protections and end of the hunts. Supporters of state management and the hunts said Christensen's ruling was impossible to achieve over such a widespread area.

Cody Wisniewski with the Mountain States Legal Foundation said that if allowed to stand, Christensen's ruling could make it harder for other species to be taken off the threatened and endangered species list.

"Opinions like this move the goalposts," he said.

Grizzly attacks have been more in the news this year, including this person who said the bear wasn't doing anything wrong and a bowhunter who killed a sow in self-defense.


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