In the midst of yet another shitty news cycle, it's nice to hear that great things can still happen.
Earlier this year, the state of Wyoming said "yeah" to allowing a maximum of 22 grizzly bears, once sheltered as a protected species, to be hunted. Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen said "nah" to hunters gearing up to shoot at grizzly bears that call the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem home.
In his order, Christensen made clear that the case “is not about the ethics of hunting, and it is not about solving human- or livestock-grizzly conflicts as a practical philosophical manner.”
Instead, the case was about whether the decision to de-list this segment of the Lower 48 grizzly population was scientifically sound. (Grizzly bears as a whole still enjoy endangered species protections across the Lower 48.) Christensen felt that it wasn’t, writing that FWS “failed to consider how reduced protections in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem would impact the other grizzly populations.”
The ruling drew heavily on a case the federal agency lost last year, when its decision to de-list Western Great Lakes region gray wolves was vacated in court for failing to consider species-wide impacts.
In the United States, there's only around 1,800 grizzly bears roaming Montana, Wyoming, Washington, Idaho and Montana. That's far from what I or any ecologist (of which I am not) would call a recovered species. Earther points out that while the Yellowstone grizzly population has rebounded in recent years, it's still isolated from other populations. With this being the case, even a cull as small as 22 bears could have had a significant impact on the survivability of the majestic beasts.
Image by Gregory "Slobirdr" Smith - Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos ssp.), CC BY-SA 2.0, Link
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