The Latest: Wyoming disappoints by grizzly bear protections
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Latest on a ruling against planned grizzly bear hunting (all times local):
Wyoming officials say they’re disappointed grizzly bears are again getting federal protections instead of being hunted in the state.
A judge in Montana on Monday blocked hunts planned in Wyoming and Idaho and put Yellowstone-area grizzlies back on the threatened species list.
Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead says the state has spent some $50 million on grizzly bear recovery and management and that grizzlies should be considered a conservation success.
Mead says Yellowstone-area grizzlies have recovered from as few as 136 animals in 1975 to over 700 today.
He says biologists correctly determined grizzlies no longer need protection under the Endangered Species Act and that the ruling shows the act isn’t working as intended.
Mead says Congress should modernize the law so it can better focus on species in need.
A U.S. judge has restored federal protections to grizzly bears in the Northern Rocky Mountains and blocked the first hunts planned for the animals in the Lower 48 states in almost three decades.
U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen’s order Monday came after he had twice delayed hunts in Wyoming and Idaho just as they were set to begin.
Federal officials say the hunts would have been the first in the Lower 48 states since 1991.
The ruling marks a victory for wildlife advocates and Native American tribes that sued when the Interior Department last year revoked federal protections for more than 700 grizzly bears living in and around Yellowstone National Park.
Wildlife advocates say the animals face continued threats from climate change and loss of habitat.