Groups Challenge New Wyoming Law That Could Allow Grizzly Bear Hunt

Feb 22, 2019

Credit Dwayne Reilander via CC BY-SA 4.0

Environmental groups filed a notice to sue the state of Wyoming. This comes after Governor Mark Gordon signed a bill that allows the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission to authorize a grizzly bear hunt in the state.

The Center of Biological Diversity is one of the groups who filed a notice. Noah Greenwald, the Endangered Species Act director at the center, said the law is essentially unconstitutional.

"The supremacy clause of the Constitution makes it clear that federal law trumps state law," said Greenwald. "I think Wyoming is essentially throwing a tantrum. The Wyoming legislature is throwing a tantrum. They didn't get what they wanted and so they are passing what essentially amounts to an illegal law."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisted the Yellowstone grizzly bear in 2017, but a federal district court judge put the bear back under Endangered Species Act protection this past fall.

Greenwald said he thinks Wyoming lawmakers are making a statement with the bill.

"I think it's questionable that they will actually go forward with the hunt. It's essentially just posturing," said Greenwald.

The bill states the commission can authorize a hunting season if, "it would be beneficial for managing Wyoming's wildlife and protecting Wyoming workers and other citizens and tourists of the state."

Greenwald said the groups will sue only if the commission actually decides to issue a hunting season.