U.S. District Court Restores Endangered Species Act Protections For Grizzly Bears

In spite of scientific data showing the recovery of the grizzly bear within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, a U.S. District Court issued a ruling that directed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to restore the ESA protections for grizzlies last September.

The FWS announced last week that it had complied with the court order. A FWS news release said, “Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revised the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife to again include grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) as part of the existing listing for grizzly bears under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This action was taken to comply with a September 24, 2018, Montana District Court order.”

grizzly bear

House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-WY) blasted the decision in a press release arguing that the  decision to relist the grizzly bear population was based on litigation pressure instead of data.

“The court-ordered relisting of the grizzly was not based on science or facts, but was rather the result of excessive litigation pursued by radical environmentalists intent on destroying our Western way of life,” Cheney said in the statement.  

“The thriving grizzly population within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem should be celebrated as a conservation success, with Wyoming investing significant resources in grizzly bear recovery and management since 2003.”

Representative Cheney said she will “continue working with [her] colleagues in Congress and the experts in Wyoming to ensure proper management of the wildlife in our state and prevent further federal overreach into our daily lives.”

SCI joined with attorneys for the FWS; the states of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana; and several non-governmental organizations including the NRA to make strong arguments in defense of the delisting and the use of hunting as a grizzly bear management tool. 

Although the FWS complied with the court order to relist the bear population, the lawsuit involving the grizzly bear delisting continues.  The states and NGOs, including SCI and NRA, appealed the court ruling and the FWS appealed a portion of the ruling.  Briefing of the appeal in the Ninth Circuit is ongoing with a conclusion of the case not expected for several months.  In the meantime, GYE grizzlies have returned to threatened status and will remain under federal protection until either the FWS issues a new delisting rule or the appeals court reverses the Montana district court opinion.


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