Appeals Court Upholds Protections for Yellowstone Grizzlies

Yellowstone grizzlies are protected from hunters as court stands by the Endangered Species Act

Trophy hunters looking to bag a Yellowstone-grizzly on their next big hunt will have to put their plans on hold.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals just upheld a ruling from 2018 that protects grizzly bears under Endangered Species Act, which the Trump administration tried to to illegally nullify.

“This is a tremendous victory,” said Andrea Zaccardi, attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Grizzlies still have a long way to go before recovery. Hunting these beautiful animals around America’s most treasured national park should never again be an option.”

Back in 2017, the Yellowstone-region grizzly bear was removed from the federal endangered and threatened species list by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

This caused outrage among the Northern Cheyenne tribe and other conservation groups in Wyoming and Idaho because it allowed bears to be killed for the first time in 40 years.

Hunters were now allowed to kill up to 23 bears a year on sacred land just outside of Yellowstone National Park.

The Cheyenne tribe didn’t let the issue rest, as they challenged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in court in a Montana federal court.  The  2018 ruling blocked the hunts.

However, the Fish and Wildlife Service, along with farmers and private hunting firms in the area appealed the district court’s order.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said there was no “concrete, enforceable mechanisms” to “ensure long-term genetic health of the Yellowstone grizzly, and that a “commitment to increase population size” is “required to ensure long-term viability.” The ruling also referred to the grizzly bear as “an iconic symbol of the Rocky Mountain west.”

“The courts have repeatedly slammed the Fish and Wildlife Service for prematurely removing federal protections from grizzly bears,” said Zaccardi. “I hope the agency will now concentrate on fully recovering these magnificent animals, not stripping them of needed safeguards.”