By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday affirmed a federal court decision ruling prohibiting trophy hunts for grizzly bears in Wyoming and Idaho.
The appeals court agreed with the 2018 decision of a U.S. District Court in Montana that President Donald Trump’s administration illegally stripped Endangered Species Act protections from Yellowstone grizzly bears.
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.”
In 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the Yellowstone-region grizzly bear population from the federal endangered and threatened species list because the grizzly population in the area had met objectives to consider the species recovered. Following the action, grizzly hunts that would have allowed for up to 23 bears to be killed outside of Yellowstone National Park were announced.
The Northern Cheyenne tribe and conservation groups challenged the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision and a Montana federal court ruling in 2018 blocked the hunts.