U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen granted conservation groups and tribal representatives request for a temporary registration order Thursday evening. This stops Wyoming and Idaho’s planned grizzly hunt for 14 days that was set to start this Saturday. But Judge Christensen still hasn’t made a decision on whether the Yellowstone grizzly bears will be put back on the Threatened Species List.
Tim Preso, an Earthjustice attorney representing the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, said the main focus was to stop the grizzly hunt from happening.
“We don’t think it’s appropriate, at this time, to kill 23 bears through a hunting season, when they are already suffering high morality levels due to conflicts from a variety of sources,” he said.
The plaintiffs argue the bears are leaving their suitable habitat because their main food source, White Bark Pine, isn’t easy to come by and needs to search for other food, like meat.
However, the federal government is arguing the bears are moving away from their suitable habitat because there is no more space.
The attorney representing the state of Wyoming, Erik Peterson, told the judge he’s concerned that Wyomingites attitudes towards grizzlies are starting to change, as they feel the bear will never actually be delisted. He said the recovery of the bears has real impacts on people and property that would be best addressed by states.
But Preso, the Earthjustice attorney, said those issues can be addressed under the Endangered Species Act.
“There’s are a lot of flexibility to deal with issues that involve property damage or any kind of threat to people. It’s not a situation where there’s no opportunity to respond to those things under the Endangered Species Act,” he said.
The Yellowstone grizzlies were taken off the Threatened Species List last year. Attorneys representing Wyoming and the federal government declined to comment.