Federal Judge Halts First Scheduled Grizzly Bear Season, At Least For Now


Just days before the opening of the first scheduled grizzly bear season in the Rocky Mountains since 1975, a federal judge issued a restraining order to stall the hunt for 14-days.

In August 2017, after noticing a “remarkable recovery,” the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed Yellowstone grizzly bears from the Endangered Species Act, and handed management responsibilities over to state wildlife agencies. In turn, both Wyoming and Idaho began the application process for the lower 48’s first scheduled grizzly bear season in decades, which was expected to begin on September 1st.

U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen issued the temporary order to block the start of grizzly bear hunting last week, saying the prosecution had “raised serious questions going to the merits.” Christensen continued, saying a temporary stop to the hunt was necessary in preventing irreparable damage to the species.

Of course, attorneys for the states argue the bear population is in fact thriving. “The likelihood of any significant harm to the population is essentially nil,” said Erik Petersen, Wyoming’s senior assistant attorney general.

A majority of grizzly bears reside in the northwest corner of Wyoming, or what’s otherwise referred to as the “Demographic Monitoring Area.” The proposed plan for the 2018 Wyoming grizzly bear hunt – which entails two phases: Sept. 1 opens the season in an outlying area with a quota of 12 bears, and Sept. 15 starts the season in prime grizzly habitat near Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks – permits the harvesting of up to 22 bears in both seasons. However, that number is unlikely to be reached because the death of one female bear would stop the hunt opening Sep. 15.

Bear hunting IS NOT permitted in Yellowstone or Grand Teton.

“It’s not being bloodthirsty. The fact of the matter is that we need to do something for the benefit of the bear,” said hunting guide Sy Gilliland, a Wyoming hunting industry spokesman. “We can’t turn the clock back and remove the people from Wyoming. The bear is overflowing. He just needs to have his number trimmed back for the benefit of the species overall.”


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