CHEYENNE, Wyo.- Top Wyoming elected officials criticized Friday a decision by a Montana federal judge to block Wyoming’s first grizzly bear hunt in four decades.
“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, a Republican, said in a statement.
On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen of Missoula put a two-week restraining order on hunt, which was scheduled to start Saturday.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service first proposed delisting grizzlies bears in Wyoming’s Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in March 2016. The rule was approved in June 2017, which shifted management of the animals to the state.
Wyoming game officials approved the hunt earlier this year over complaints by tribes and conservation groups, which later sued.
“The good work Wyoming, and other states, are doing to protect and manage species should have an opportunity to succeed. The grizzly bear delisting shouldn’t be undone by the courts. Even the Obama administration determined that the grizzly should be delisted. I will continue to work to make sure that management of the grizzly remains with Wyoming,” U.S. Sen John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said in a statement.