Judge halts grizzly bear hunt hours before seasons to start
By Chris Eger
The hunt was the first scheduled in Wyoming in 44 years, while Idaho had not seen a season in 22. (Photo: USF&WS)
As part of a lawsuit brought by animal rights activists and Native American tribes, the pending grizzly hunt in Wyoming and Idaho has been put on ice.
U.S. Judge Dana Christensen, a 2013 appointment to the federal bench by President Obama, issued the 14-day preliminary injunction from his Missoula courtroom Thursday at 5:05 p.m.
The case, supported by almost 30 groups to include the Humane Society, Center for Biological Diversity, National Parks Conservation Association, Northern Cheyenne Tribe, and Sierra Club, took issue with the decision by federal wildlife officials to allow the population of grizzly bears in the Yellowstone area to be managed by local conservation agencies.
The Yellowstone grizzly was protected from hunting under the Endangered Species Act after the population fell to as low as 136 animals in 1975. However, it has now rebounded to around 700 and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, a former Montana lawmaker and self-avowed outdoorsman appointed to head the department last year by President Trump, moved to delist the herd from its status on the threatened species list last year, a move recommended by the U.S.