CHEYENNE — Yesterday, a Federal District Court Judge in Montana issued a temporary restraining order suspending grizzly bear hunting in Wyoming.
The order is in effect for the next two weeks. The delisting rule promulgated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) that ended Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) remains in effect.
Grizzly bears remain delisted, and Wyoming will continue to manage grizzly bears pending a final decision.
“I am disappointed by this temporary restraining order,” said Governor Matt Mead. “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,” said Mead.
History of grizzly delisting
In 2007, the FWS delisted grizzly bears in the GYE. A federal judge reinstated protections in 2009 after finding that the FWS did not adequately consider the impacts of the decline of whitebark pine nuts – a grizzly bear food source.
In 2013, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team determined that the reduction in whitebark pine nuts did not significantly impact grizzly bears and again recommended delisting.
In 2017, the FWS published a rule delisting grizzly bears in the GYE. States gave additional assurances regarding long-term viability.
Wyoming has adopted a Grizzly Bear Management Plan, which has been implemented since delisting in 2017. That document is available on the Game and Fish Department website.