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FWS restores federal protections to Yellowstone grizzlies

Grizzly bear

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Last month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) restored federal protections to grizzly bears living in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). The decision brings the controversial debate over whether grizzlies were considered recovered enough to warrant a delisting to a close. While states within the GYE—Wyoming, Montana and Idaho—anticipated holding grizzly bear hunts to help manage the populations, this final decision halts any possibility of hunting a GYE grizzly and returns management of the species to federal hands.

In 2017, the Trump administration removed protections for the bears within the GYE, purporting that the decision was based upon the “best available and scientific commercial data,” which “indicated that the species in that ecosystem no longer met the definition of an endangered or threatened species,” the Pacific Standard reports. However, several environmental groups and other organizations argued that the species should not be delisted and six separate lawsuits were filed against the decision.

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Eventually, as goHUNT previously reported, the six lawsuits were combined into one and, U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen restored federal protections to GYE grizzly bears. 

Now, in accordance with that ruling, FWS has returned GYE grizzlies to the Endangered Species List. 

“There is widespread public support for grizzly bear conservation, and the Service continues to collaborate with state, federal, non-governmental, and tribal partners to research, monitor, and manage the iconic species and its habitats,” FWS said in a press release.

Grizzly bears live within five other ecosystems across North America besides the GYE: the Northern Cascades, the Bitterroot, the Northern Continental Divide and the Cabinet-Yaak. Now, all grizzly bears living in these ecosystems have federal protections and are listed under the Endangered Species Act.


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Arron J. - posted 8 months ago on 09-03-2019 09:25:35 pm

As I've commented on earlier posts concerning Judge Christensen, this was a poor and insupportable decision. Undoubtedly the grizzly advocates cherry-picked his court and Christensen has not disappointed them. He has clearly indicated he will not allow grizzlies to be delisted until they are fully restored to their "original historical range"....Baja, Mexico east to Dallas, Texas, north along the Mississippi River to Nome, Alaska, and then back south along the Pacific Coast to Baja, Mexico. Imagine grizzlies roaming the suburbs of Dallas. Insanity.

Terry Z. - posted 9 months ago on 08-22-2019 06:02:50 am
Marion, Montana

We need to manage the grizzly bears on a state level. The bears population here in Montana is over and above what is being projected in the EDA. Bear are coming out of the mountains and heading to the prairie on Montana's eastern front of the Rockies, because the population is over in the bears territories. I for one have grown eyes in the back of my head when I take my 15 year old son archery hunting now, scary is the word for it. People who don't live in Montana, Idaho or Wyoming do not have a clue what a grizzly is like, yep they see picture. The bears are wrecking machines, god forbid a youth is mauled and hurt or even killed because of selfish a decision by a armchair federal judge wanna be biologist and those who only care from watch the TV or reading a wildlife magazine. Everyone remember that the wolves were good for ecosystem, what a joke, look at our ungulate population from now compared to 20 or 30 years ago, especially our Shiras moose.

Thank you Go Hunt for writing this article.
Terry L. Zink

Franco P. - posted 9 months ago on 08-21-2019 08:46:53 pm

Let’s not put Grizzlies back on the endangered species list because we need to protect elk, moose, and deer that already thrive. There are bears everywhere! We would like to hunt them to the point of extinction again just like we did with the wolves. There must be like 7 wolf packs in North America and nearly 100 wolves. They are everywhere too! If you go to Yellowstone you have about a one in a million chance of seeing them. And how natural would the ecosystem be if it wasn’t just me and my fellow hunters killing the elk, moose, and deer? These liberal snowflakes have no idea what they’re talking about!

And all these natural cows are being eaten by the grizzlies! This ruling is unjust!

Orion H. - posted 9 months ago on 08-21-2019 06:38:26 pm

I completely disagree with this judge and FWS. This was a poor decision. Apparently, predator supporters forget about the other animals. If humans do not manage the population, the elk, deer, and moose suffer. This whole push for bears, wolves, and mountain lions has destroyed the elk, moose, and deer populations throughout the states affected by this decision. It is sad that the parties that push for these actions do not think beyond the one animal. I prefer elk, deer, and moose, but those animals do not garner the publicity. Apparently, elk, moose, and deer need better lawyers.

Robert P. - posted 9 months ago on 08-21-2019 11:53:13 am

I'm 70 years old, live in the Cabinet-Yaak system. I've never seen a wildlife Management program that actually works as the scientist said it would. Leave the grizzlies alone. I commend the Judge for re- listing them.

JAMES R. - posted 9 months ago on 08-21-2019 09:27:32 am

I literally can drive no more than an 80 mile round trip from my house any day of the week and with minimal effort see between 6-10 mature grizzly bears, and that isn't even counting the cubs, usually twins or triplets. This is a complete abuse by enviro groups and liberal judges of the Endangered Species Act! It served its purpose, the species is recovered, now let state wildlife agencies manage them.

Wolves went through the same process, and we are managing them at the state level and there are still plenty, if not to many, of them on the landscape!

Endangered Species Act is a great thing, but please lets stop abusing it!

Mike M. - posted 9 months ago on 08-20-2019 09:10:36 pm

Maybe they should take some of the overpopulated grizzlies and reintroduce them to the Adirondacks, Poconos and Smokies. It might change some eastern attitudes.

matthew a. - posted 9 months ago on 08-20-2019 06:45:45 pm
Sheridan, WY

I wish gohunt would bin all these emotionally charged articles so I could simply avoid accidentally reading the BS.

Our nation will fall if laws are made upon emotions; # stop the snowflakes

Marlene O. - posted 9 months ago on 08-20-2019 03:33:14 pm

I am a Republican Conservative and I DO NOT WANT THE GRIZZLY HUNTED AT ALL, We need to put our wildlife before the whims of farmers and cattlemen. They already have TOO MUCH access to public lands. Also we need to LEARN FROM PRIOR MISTAKES THE GENE POOL FOR GRIZ IS LIMITED AND ANY MORE DEATHS ARE A NEG. IMPACT

JAMES R. - posted 9 months ago on 08-20-2019 02:44:51 pm

This should come as no surprise that decisions are being made by judges and lawsuits put forth by enviro groups that don't live with or deal with these over populated bears! Decisions are not based on science or common sense and therefor the true conservationists, hunters and wildlife managers, are not allowed to conserve and manage for a healthy population that can co-exist in todays world!