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Sports >  Outdoors

Appeals Court Victory Maintains Protections for Yellowstone Grizzlies

July 8, 2020 Updated Wed., July 8, 2020 at 1:26 p.m.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday in San Francisco affirmed a federal court’s 2018 ruling that the Trump administration illegally stripped Endangered Species Act protections from Yellowstone’s grizzly bears.  (National Park Service/courtesy)
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday in San Francisco affirmed a federal court’s 2018 ruling that the Trump administration illegally stripped Endangered Species Act protections from Yellowstone’s grizzly bears. (National Park Service/courtesy)

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday in San Francisco affirmed a federal court’s 2018 ruling that the Trump administration illegally stripped Endangered Species Act protections from Yellowstone’s grizzly bears. The decision spares the grizzlies from previous plans for trophy hunts in Wyoming and Idaho.

“This is a tremendous victory for all who cherish Yellowstone’s grizzly bears and for those who’ve worked to ensure they’re protected under the Endangered Species Act,” said Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Grizzlies still have a long way to go before recovery. Hunting these beautiful animals around America’s most treasured national park should never again be an option.”

In 2017 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the Yellowstone-region grizzly bear population from the federal endangered and threatened species list. Following this, Wyoming and Idaho – for the first time in more than 40 years – announced grizzly hunts that would have allowed for up to 23 bears to be killed outside of Yellowstone National Park.

The Northern Cheyenne tribe and conservation groups challenged the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision, and a Montana federal court’s 2018 ruling blocked the hunts. The Fish and Wildlife Service and numerous intervenors – composed of states of the Yellowstone region and private hunting and farming organizations – appealed the district court’s order.

In ruling that Yellowstone grizzly bears must remain protected under the Endangered Species Act, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals pointed to the lack of “concrete, enforceable mechanisms” to “ensure long-term genetic health of the Yellowstone grizzly.” The ruling explains an “increase population size” is “required to ensure long-term viability” and describes the grizzly bear as “an iconic symbol of the Rocky Mountain west.”

“The courts have repeatedly slammed the Fish and Wildlife Service for prematurely removing federal protections from grizzly bears,” said Zaccardi. “I hope the agency will now concentrate on fully recovering these magnificent animals, not stripping them of needed safeguards.”

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