9th Circuit Grants Win to Tribes and Other Groups on Bear Hunts
The opinion from the 9th Circuit Court Judge began with words from the University of Montana ‘Grizzly Fight Song’:
‘And the squeal of the pig will float through the air from the tummy of the grizzly bear.’
Thus began the decision reinstating the Endangered Species Act protections to the Yellowstone Ecosystem Grizzly Bear population that ended the trophy hunts in the states of Wyoming and Idaho.
Managing Attorney for the Northern Rockies office of Earth Justice, Tim Preso spoke of the decision handed down on Wednesday morning in San Francisco.
“This court battle arose from the U.S. government’s decision to try to remove the Endangered Species Act protections from the Yellowstone grizzly bear population,” said Preso. “It was a legal fight that actually came to a head in Missoula right on the eve of the planned hunting season when the states of Wyoming and Idaho planned to authorize hunting for up to 23 grizzly bears for the first time in 40 years, and we were successful in winning a court order that stopped that hunt from going forward.”
Preso said one of the legal hurdles that the court had to negotiate was the method of counting the grizzly bears in that area.
“The states, particularly Wyoming, had pushed for a system in which they changed the counting method to estimate the Yellowstone grizzly population, and thereby dramatically increase the number of bears that could be hunted,” he said. “The court agreed that if it was going to change the counting method, then it needed to change all the quotas and allow more mortalities till they would be commensurate, so that they couldn’t use mathematical tricks to increase the number of bears that they could hunt.”
Preso said the decision may also help the Yellowstone grizzly bears join with other bear populations in Montana.
“The bears in the northern Continental Divide and Yellowstone are only about 60 miles apart,” he said. “There’s a very real prospect that we could link up those populations and have a unified grizzly population from the Canadian border to Yellowstone. That same landscape opens the door to grizzly recolonization of the Bitterroot Country and central Idaho which is another holy grail for grizzly recovery."
Read the 9th Circuit Court’s ruling here.