A US Federal Judge has temporarily blocked what would have been the first trophy hunt of grizzly bears in the area of Yellowstone National Park in 40 years.
Judge Dana Christensen sided with activists and Native American groups that have been pushing to have the protected status of the bear reinstated.
“The threat of death to individual bears posed by the scheduled hunts is sufficient” to prevent the start of the state’s hunting season, Christensen wrote in his decision.
Now Christensen will take time to consider whether or not the government was in the wrong when it lifted the grizzly’s special status.
Opponents of the hunt have argued that the decision by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to lift the bear’s special categorization last year was based on faulty science that said they were no longer a threatened species.
2,000 bears down from 100,000
Although hunting is expressly forbidden inside Yellowstone, Wyoming and neighboring Idaho had been scheduled to start an official hunting season for grizzlies just outside the park in two days time.
Montana, where Judge Christensen is based, had decided against establishing a grizzly season.
There are few than 2,000 grizzly bears in the lower 48 states, down from a historic high of 100,000 before widespread settlement in the American West. Killing grizzlies had been expressly outlawed as of 1975, when it came under the protection of the Endangered Species Act.
A spokesman for Wyoming’s Game and Fish Department said the state would abide by the decision.
es/rc (AP, Reuters)
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