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Wyoming officials blast judge’s reversal of grizzly delisting

Posted at 8:32 PM, Sep 25, 2018
and last updated 2019-07-17 14:51:35-04

CHEYENNE- Wyoming officials criticized a federal judge’s decision to place grizzly bears back under federal protection, arguing that conservation plans have helped improve the health of the species.

“Grizzly bear recovery should be viewed as a conservation success story. Due to Wyoming’s investment of approximately $50 million for recovery and management, grizzly bears have exceeded every scientifically established recovery criteria in the GYE since 2003. Numbers have risen from as few as 136 bears when they were listed in 1975, to more than 700 today,” Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead said Tuesday in a written statement.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen of Missoula sided with the Crow tribe and environmentalists in blocking planned grizzly hunts in Wyoming and Idaho. Christensen vacated a 2017 rule from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removing grizzly bears as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said Tuesday she’s introducing a bill in Congress directing the Department of the Interior, which oversees Fish and Wildlife, to reissue the delisting and block further judicial review.

“The decision by a Federal District Court Judge in Montana to re-list the grizzly ignores science, and disregards the important work done by the state of Wyoming to establish an effective grizzly bear management plan. My bill will stop this abuse of the court system and put management of the grizzly back in the hands of experts in Wyoming,” Cheney said.

Wyoming U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Mike Enzi, both Republicans, also called for reform of the federal law.

“This is a prime example why Congress should modernize the Endangered Species Act. We should elevate the role of states and local experts who are on the ground working with the grizzly – and other endangered species – on a daily basis. They should have the opportunity to put the strong management principles they developed in place,” Barrasso said in a statement.

Added Enzi, “As the grizzly bear population has increased in Wyoming, so has the danger to livestock, property and humans. That is why it was so important that management of the species be in the hands of the state. I hope that a quick resolution to keep the Yellowstone grizzly bears delisted can be implemented.”

Related: Judge extends block on grizzly hunting outside Yellowstone

Related: Grizzly bear hunts: A look at both sides of controversial issue

Related: Conservation groups believe Yellowstone ruling will impact northern grizzlies