Judge orders two-week stay on trophy bear hunting in Yellowstone

Saturday would have been the start of the first grizzly-bear hunting season in Yellowstone in four decades, but a Montana judge halted it for the next two weeks to review whether the hunt is appropriate.
By Rick Docksai | Sep 07, 2018
A Montana judge issued a temporarily block Thursday against what would have been the first authorized grizzly-bear hunt in Yellowstone Park in more than 40 years. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen said that the order will delay the hunt for 14 days and that he will use the time to examine whether the government should have lifted protections on the animals in the first place.

Wyoming and Idaho lawmakers had made plans to open grizzly-bear hunting season in their areas of the park on September 1. The plans called for allowing the killing of up to 23 bears throughout the two states' park areas.

Around 700 bears live in and around Yellowstone, where they had protection under the Endangered Species Act from hunters for several decades. The government took the bears off the Endangered list in 2017 after concluding that the bears' population had grown large enough that officials deemed it no longer in need of special protection.

Christensen wasn't so sure. He wrote in his ruling that the "threat of death to individual bears posed by the scheduled hunts is sufficient" to justify postponing hunting season.

Some hunters expressed disappointment. One hunter, Todd Hoese of Gillette, Wyoming, argued that there "are too many bears now" and that the judge and other opponents of the hunting are "not considering the threat to other animals the bears pose, or the increased possibility of attack in humans."

But the ruling received praise from conservation groups, such as the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. It also received positive feedback from local Native Americans, who revere the bear as sacred.

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