So far in this young century, few wildlife conservation issues have galvanized more Americans than whether or not Western state governments ought to allow grizzly bears to be hunted again.
On Monday, September 24, 2018, U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen in Missoula, Montana, resolved the matter for the foreseeable future.
In a 48-page decision, Christensen ordered that grizzlies inhabiting the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem be restored to protected status as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. Trophy hunts planned for this autumn in Wyoming (targeting 22 grizzlies) and Idaho (one bear) have been postponed indefinitely, much to the delight of millions of bear advocates and 200 indigenous communities.
“As big a victory as it was for the bears, though, the decision could also prove huge for other species, too.”
“We won!” Bonnie Rice reported after the ruling. The senior representative for the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America campaign, Rice previewed the legal fight over the grizzly’s protected status on The Cleanest Line in April. “We’re really glad that the court sided with science” she elaborated in a statement later. “Restoring endangered species protections for Yellowstone’s grizzly bears means that we have a real chance at restoring them to full recovery.”
“Today we celebrate this victory and will continue to advocate on behalf of the Yellowstone grizzly bears until the population is recovered, including within the Tribe’s ancestral homeland in Montana and other states,” Lawrence Killsback, president of the Northern Cheyenne Nation, said on Monday. “The Northern Cheyenne Nation views the grizzly bear as a relative entitled to our respect and protection from harm.”
As big a victory as it was for the bears, though, the decision could also prove huge for other species, too.
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by Todd Wilkinson
Photo by Greg Von Doersten