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Federal District Judge Speeds Up Decision To Place Grizzlies Back On Endangered Species List

Grizzly bear
Credit Grizzly bear on Swan Lake Flats, Yellowstone National Park; Jim Peaco

A federal district judge cited potential grizzly hunts when denying the federal government’s request to delay lawsuits that challenge the bear's delisting.

After the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly bear was taken off the endangered species list in 2017, tribal and conservation groups filed several lawsuits. They argued the decision fails to address new issues that threaten the bear, like the loss of critical food sources. The groups are also concerned about the impact delisting the GYE bear would have on the grizzly population in the neighboring Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.

Joe Kondelis, the president of Western Bear Foundation, said these are very different bear populations and shouldn’t be grouped together. 

“The bears in the GYE eat very different things than the bears do in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. So their habitat is different, their biological and ecological, everything is different with those bears than the bears down here,” said Kondelis. “So we would like to see them managed accordingly.”

He is a supporter of grizzly bear hunting and he said tribal and conservation groups will never be content.

“Because if we had 2,000 bears in the GYE they still would not be okay with a hunting season. If we had 10,000, they still would not be okay with a hunting season,” said Kondelis. “There are groups out there that will not rest until they have constant protection for a species.”

Kondelis said he believes hunting is an effective way to manage grizzlies, but he respects if the government were to decide in the future that the population couldn't withstand a hunt. The next hearing will be held in August.

In addition to reporting daily on the happenings in Northwest Wyoming, Kamila is also the producer of the Kids Ask WhY Podcast and the History Unloaded Podcast.Kamila has worked for public radio stations in California, New York, France and Poland. Originally from New York City, she loves exploring new places. Kamila received her master in journalism from Columbia University. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the surrounding areas with her two pups and husband.
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