Federal court says HSUS lawsuit to protect grizzlies can proceed

By on March 15, 2018 with 12 Comments

Our fight to protect grizzly bears cleared a hurdle this week, when a federal court gave the green light to a lawsuit challenging the premature delisting of Yellowstone-area grizzlies. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had filed a motion to indefinitely pause the case filed by The HSUS and the Fund for Animals last year, challenging the politically motivated removal of federal protections for the bears.

The court rejected the FWS motion and allowed the lawsuit to proceed without delay.

States surrounding Yellowstone National Park have pressured FWS to ignore available science and turn grizzly bear management over to the states. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department (whose Chief Game Warden, Brian Nesvik, is a Shikar-Safari Club International honoree) is moving to open up a season on the rare and much-beloved grizzly bears who live in the vicinity of Yellowstone this fall. The current proposal would set a quota of 24 bears, and even allow inhumane hunting methods like baiting in some areas.

Until April 30, Wyoming Game and Fish will take public comments on the proposal. It will render its decision at a hearing in Casper on May 23.

As part of an agreement with Idaho and Montana, Wyoming gets the lion’s share of the trophy-hunting opportunities for Yellowstone-area grizzly bears: 58 percent to Wyoming for bears outside of the national parks, while Montana gets 34 percent and Idaho gets eight percent.

When asked why Wyoming wants to open a season while Montana (and British Columbia) wildlife officials have opted not to, Nesvik replied, “It’s great that states get the opportunity to make the decision.” It’s not surprising that Nesvik thinks so, but there is a reason why state governments should not get to decide the fates of rare species. Local officials, who cater to ranchers and local outfitting guides, disenfranchise the millions of Americans who don’t want grizzly bears slaughtered for a few trophy hunters seeking to have their portrait taken over a dead bear while gloating and showing off their high-caliber weapons on social media.

Wyoming wildlife officials admitted that they knew the hunt would be controversial. In formal comment letters and in open meetings, there was strong public opposition expressed against the hunt.

At immediate risk from a trophy hunting season in Wyoming would be celebrity bears, like female 399, who is often seen in areas just outside of Grand Teton National Park. She is more than 20 years old and has been a successful mother. She and her beautiful cub will be put in the crosshairs if Wyoming opens up a grizzly bear hunting season.

The National Park Service notes that in 2016, eight million visitors went to Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks and spent $1.5 billion in local communities, which contributed to 17,600 jobs in the region. Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead and other state officials should realize that Yellowstone-area grizzly bears are far more valuable alive than dead. In the meantime, The HSUS’s litigation work will advance as part of our comprehensive effort to stop Wyoming’s grizzly bear hunt.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Atia says:

    Thank you, HSUS, for filing the lawsuit to protect grizzly bears! Allowing 24 bears to be killed by using inhumane hunting methods is a wrong as so-called “ethical” hunting (which doesn’t really exist). Tourists love observing living, breathing grizzly bears with and without their cubs, but I’m sure that hunters are just salivating to get their trophies and body parts by hook or by crook.

    • Wendy Keefover, Carnivore Protection Manager, The HSUS says:

      Thanks, Atia! Yes, tourism and wildlife watching dollars benefit Wyoming and the other Northern Rocky Mountain states far more than trophy hunting. We sure hope Gov. Matt Mead hears the message. And I hope you’ll be willing to submit a comment–links are found in the blog. Thanks!

  2. Greer Ashtom says:

    I will never understand hunters’ mentality, wanting to kill anything that moves.What’s the obsession with wanting to kill large animals such as grizzlies, the bigger, the better, watching the light go out of their eyes, leaving orphaned cubs who rely on their mothers for several years? Cameras won’t do? I am thankful that there are organizations such as HSUS who still care enough to sue on behalf of grizzly bears! We must all protect wildlife from brutal killers.

    • Wendy Keefover, Carnivore Protection Manager, The HSUS says:

      Dear Greer,

      Thank you so much for your comments. Few can understand why anyone would want to kill a magnificent grizzly bear or other large mammal. Their views are sure outside the mainstream and they are the minority.

  3. George Nagle says:

    THANK YOU for filing this critically important lawsuit! Ever since Safari Club International (SCI) membership lost access to trophy hunt grizzly bears in British Columbia (BC) they’ve become hyper driven to get access to the Yellow Stone grizzly and the grizzly in the Northern Continental Divide. One of the challenges in winning this kind of lawsuit is finding an objective judge that understands that the The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and their wildlife biologists are biased and are representing special interests, i.e. SCI, the NRA, and other pro-hunting groups, and not the best interests of the grizzly bears. The FWS has a major conflict of interest. Most judges don’t understand this scenario, and are typically prejudice in favor of the government agency. When you have two sets of wildlife biologists presenting confusing presentations to a judge who doesn’t have the expertise to know where the truth lies, the judge often sides with the agency wildlife biologists.

  4. Barbara Metzler says:

    I want to thank Kitty Block and HSUS for filing a lawsuit to try to stop the hunting of grizzly bears. We sooooo need Kitty Block and HSUS to help us protect wildlife.

  5. Anne Barton says:

    Thank you HSUS for protecting the bears from this cruel and disastrous trophy hunting! It is difficult to understand why such barbaric practices are allowed in a supposedly civilized country. So glad you are there for the bears and the majority of us who prefer our wildlife alive!

  6. Billita Jacobsen says:

    Thank you for filing a lawsuit to stop the bear hunt. This is a much needed action since the wildlife that lives on our public lands are under brutal attacks. Less than 6% of Americans hunt and yet public agencies and states cater to a small number that wants to kill large numbers of our wildlife. Lawsuits may be the only thing that stops them since they are not yet listening to the majority of Americans. Good job, HSUS. Thank you for making them listen!

  7. Silvie Pomicter says:

    Thank you for helping the bears and other wildlife.

  8. georgia gillespie says:

    Thank you…beyond words…for filing this lawsuit.

  9. Robert crowe says:

    I will not spend any vacation dollars in any state that allows grizzly hunting

  10. Amanda Daflos says:

    Thank you for this lawsuit. Please continue at any cost. For those of us that just learned about it through the 60 min story last weekend and missed comment period, how can we help? Should we show up somewhere? Send someone a letter? Call? Please tell us who. Also, does this lawsuit cover the entire area where bears are threatened? Will you file another if not?

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