For Immediate Release
August 30, 2018
Josh Osher, Western Watersheds Project (406) 830-3099
Mike Garrity, Alliance for the Wild Rockies (406) 459-5936
MISSOULA, Mont. – After a federal judge declined to rule from the bench today regarding last year’s removal of Endangered Species Act protection for Yellowstone grizzly bears, conservation groups rushed to seek an emergency restraining order to halt planned hunting seasons, set to open on Saturday in Wyoming and Idaho.
“A ruling in this case today could have stopped the planned hunts in their tracks,” said Josh Osher, Montana Director of Western Watersheds Project. “We’re determined to stop Wyoming and Idaho from killing these magnificent animals while the subpopulation is still so imperiled by so many factors.”
The original grizzly bear recovery plan wisely required that the Yellowstone population be connected with other grizzly bear populations before being delisted, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service expedited delisting despite the geographic and genetic isolation still facing the subpopulation. The Yellowstone bears are threatened by a changing climate and precarious food supplies, and their habitat has been encroached upon by commercial activities such as livestock grazing, which often results in lethal “management” for the native predator.
“We’re going to try to block the hunts by seeking a temporary restraining order pending the court ruling on the merits of the case,” said Mike Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. “Last year’s delisting was premature and this week’s planned hunts are premature. We expect we’ll prevail in securing both near- and long-term protection for the great bears of Yellowstone.”
When the government delisted the bear in June 2017, numerous tribes and conservation groups immediately challenged the decision on the grounds that the Yellowstone population was disconnected from other North American grizzly populations and the species only occupies two percent of its historic range.
“This case is about giving the Yellowstone grizzly a real chance to reclaim its place on the North American landscape, connecting with other grizzly subpopulations, and ensuring its habitat and nutritional needs are met in light of a changing climate,” said Dr. Sara Johnson, Director of Native Ecosystems Council.
Western Watersheds Project, Alliance for Wild Rockies and Native Ecosystems Council are being represented by Tim Bechtold of Bechtold Law Firm, Rebecca Smith of the Public Interest Defense Center, and David Bell. The filings are online here.