MISSOULA, Mont. – A federal judge ruled Monday that grizzly bears will retain protection under the Endangered Species Act, blocking planned hunts in Idaho and Wyoming.
U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen sided with the Crow Tribe and other conservation groups in reversing a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to delist grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
In his 48-page ruling, Christensen wrote the wildlife agency had erred by not considering the impact the 2017 delisting would have on grizzly bear populations throughout the continental United States.
The agency also acted “arbitrarily and capriciously” in developing its analysis of the threats faced by the grizzly bear population, Christensen wrote.
On Aug. 30, the day before Wyoming was scheduled to launch its first grizzly hunt in four decades, Christensen granted a temporary restraining order to delay the action.
Environmentalists cheered the ruling Monday.
“Politics has no place in removing species from protective status – decisions must be driven by the best available science and here, the science says grizzly bears remain threatened in the lower 48 and in the Yellowstone region. Today’s decision is a firm reminder to the Fish and Wildlife Service of its duty,” said Matthew Bishop, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center.