Protections Restored & Hunts on Grizzly Bears Blocked

Video clip from Bradley Orsted

Featured image Bradley Orsted Horsefeathers Photography

Protections restored for grizzly bears; hunts blocked

By MATTHEW BROWN Associated Press SEPTEMBER 25, 2018 — 12:55AM

BILLINGS, Mont. — A U.S. judge ordered federal protections restored for grizzly bears in the Northern Rocky Mountains on Monday, a move that blocks the first grizzly hunts planned in the Lower 48 states in almost three decades.

Wyoming and Idaho had been on the cusp of allowing hunters to kill up to 23 bears this fall. U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen had twice delayed the hunts, and the latest order blocking them was due to expire later this week. The hunts would have been the first in U.S. outside Alaska since 1991.

Christensen wrote in his ruling that the case was “not about the ethics of hunting.” Rather, he said, it was about whether federal officials adequately considered threats to the species’ long-term recovery when they lifted protections for more than 700 bears living around Yellowstone National Park.

In the judge’s view, the answer was no.

He noted that an estimated 50,000 bears once roamed the contiguous U.S. and said it would be “simplistic at best and disingenuous at worst” not to consider the status of grizzlies outside the Yellowstone region, one of the few areas where they have bounced back.

State and federal officials reacted with disappointment. Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead said the ruling provided further evidence of flaws in the Endangered Species Act and the need for Congress to make changes.

“Grizzly bear recovery should be viewed as a conservation success story,” Mead said in a statement.

A bid to remove protections for the region’s gray wolves ran into similar legal problems last decade. In that case, Congress intervened in 2011 to strip safeguards from the animals through legislation, opening the way to public wolf hunts.

Pressure to lift protections on bears and allow hunting has increased in recent years as the number of conflicts between bears and people increased. Most of those conflicts involve attacks on livestock but occasionally bears attack people, such as a Wyoming hunting guide killed earlier this month by a pair of grizzly bears.

The ruling marks a victory for wildlife advocates and Native American tribes that sued when the Interior Department last year revoked federal protections. They argued that the animals face continued threats from climate change and loss of habitat.

Tim Preso, an attorney with EarthJustice who represented many of the plaintiffs, said Christensen’s ruling made clear that the government had moved too hastily to remove protections because bears are absent from much of their historical range.

“Putting the blinders on to everything other than Yellowstone grizzlies was illegal,” he said. “We tried to get them to put on the brakes, but they refused to do that.”

Hunting and agriculture groups and the National Rifle Association had intervened in the case seeking to keep management of grizzlies under state control.

Restoring protections will allow the grizzly population to grow unchecked, “endangering the lives and livelihoods of westerners who settled the region long ago,” said Cody Wisniewski, representing the Wyoming Farm Bureau.

The grizzlies living in and around Yellowstone were classified as a threatened species in 1975 after most bears had been killed off early last century and the population was down to just 136 animals.

Government biologists contend Yellowstone’s grizzlies are now thriving, have adapted to changes in their diet and are among the best-managed bears in the world.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Jennifer Strickland said the agency was reviewing Monday’s ruling but stood behind its decision to lift protections.

The agency initially declared a successful recovery for the Yellowstone population in 2007, but a federal judge ordered protections to remain while wildlife officials studied whether the decline of a major food source — whitebark pine seeds — could threaten the bears’ survival.

The Fish and Wildlife Service concluded last year it had addressed that and all other threats and said the grizzlies were no longer a threatened species requiring restrictive federal protections for them and their habitat.

That decision turned management of the bears over to the states, which agreed on a plan that set hunting quotas based on the number of deaths each year to ensure the population stays above 600 animals.

The federal agency has been moving toward lifting federal protections for another group of about 1,000 bears living in Montana’s Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness, but it first wanted to see how Christensen ruled on the Yellowstone case.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Matthew Bishop with the Western Environmental Law Center said the agency should reconsider those plans in light of Christensen’s ruling.

“The idea of recovering grizzly bears in the Lower 48 should still be on the table. They shouldn’t get away with this piecemeal delisting approach,” Bishop said.

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Bradley Orsted of Horsefeather Photography posted on his Facebook page the following:

THANK YOU again to everyone who stood up for grizzly bears including Judge Christensen. It took a grizzly nation of tribes, scientists, advocates, artists and everyone who cares to make this happen. Never underestimate the power of our Grizzly Nation! #savetheyellowstonegrizzly #grizzlybearsforever #shootemwithacamera #relisted #horsefeathersphotography

Judge Blocks the Hunting of Grizzly Bears in Idaho, Wyoming

by The Associated Press Thursday, August 30th 2018

A judge has temporarily blocked the opening of grizzly bear hunts scheduled for this weekend in Wyoming and Idaho.

U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen’s Thursday order comes as the two states prepared to open the first grizzly bear hunting seasons in the Lower 48 states since Montana’s last hunt in 1991.

The ruling is a victory for wildlife advocates and Native American tribes that sued over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision in 2017 to lift protections for 700 grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park.

The plaintiffs had argued the bears still face threats to their survival. Federal wildlife officials say the bears are thriving.

Fewer than two dozen bears would be allowed to be killed in the hunts.

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2:05 p.m.

Wildlife advocates are asking for a temporary restraining order to block grizzly bear hunts scheduled in Wyoming and Idaho this weekend after a judge said he wouldn’t make an immediate ruling in the case.

Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso told U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen at the end of a court hearing Thursday that stopping those hunts was the immediate goal of more than two dozen groups and individuals suing to restore protections to a group of bears in the Rocky Mountains.

They want Christensen to reverse last year’s decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove grizzlies living in and around Yellowstone National Park from the list of threatened species.

Christensen said he needed more time to consider the arguments but he didn’t specify when he would rule.

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11 a.m.

A judge says he will not make an immediate ruling on whether protections should be restored to a group of grizzly bears in the Rocky Mountains, as hunting seasons loom in two states.

U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen said Thursday he will issue a decision as quickly as possible but did not say whether he would rule before Saturday, when Wyoming and Idaho have bear hunts scheduled to begin.

Wildlife advocates and Native American tribes say the 700 bears living in and around Yellowstone National Park still face threats to their survival.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2017 ruled that Yellowstone grizzlies no longer need federal protections.

Government biologists say the bear population has recovered and is thriving.

Fewer than two dozen bears would be allowed to be killed in the hunts.

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1 a.m.

Wildlife advocates hope to convince a judge that grizzly bears living in the Yellowstone National Park area face too many threats to their survival to add trophy hunting to the mix.

Over two dozen conservation groups, Native American tribes and individuals will argue Thursday in a Montana courtroom that about 700 Yellowstone grizzlies should continue to be protected under the Endangered Species Act because of conflicts with humans, changing food sources and a host of other obstacles.

Wyoming and Idaho have set Saturday as the opening day for the first grizzly hunting season in the Lower 48 states since 1974. U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen said he will rule by then on whether to allow the hunts to proceed.

An appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is likely by whoever is on the losing side.

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Featured image credit John E Marriott Photograply

“Tall Tales, Long Lenses: My Adventures in Photography” by John E Marriott is now available to order..

Written by John E. Marriott & Photographed by John E. Marriott and Foreword by Kelly Hrudey

John E Marriott is one of Canada’s renowned wildlife photographers

In January 1997, John E. Marriott sold his first image as a professional wildlife photographer. Twenty years later, Marriott’s Tall Tales, Long Lenses chronicles his rise as one of Canada’s renowned wildlife photographers, with a storied career that has included magazine covers, best-selling books, billboards, a Royal Canadian Mint coin, a Canada Post stamp a photography column in a national publication and a conservation-themed web series.

Guess what just arrived en masse!! 3,000 copies of Tall Tales, Long Lenses!! Direct order available at http://www.wildernessprints.com (cheaper than you-know-who in the States!).  ~John E Marriott Wildlife and Nature Photography Facebook Page

This remarkable book recounts many of Marriott’s favourite stories and photos from his most memorable wildlife encounters in some of Canada’s spectacular locales. It’s a fascinating autobiographical account of being in the right place at exactly the right times, from his on-day love affair with a pine marten to his lifelong quest to find monstrous male grizzly bears like Frank the Tank. Marriott takes you through two decades of his tallest tales and showcases many of his unforgettable images of the animals that have inspired him to become an outspoken conservation advocate. Here’s where to order your copy today. www.wildernessprints.com 

I’ve been using John E Marriott’s photographs of wolves for several years now. So it could be said that John’s photographs have helped spread education & awareness in advocating for Wisconsin’s wild wolf!  ~Rachel Tilseth Founder of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin 

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Featured image is the cover of John E Marriott’s new book

Action Alert: Stop the inhumane and scientifically unjustified killing methods on Alaska’s grizzly bears and wolves 

Oppose H.J. Res. 69 Humane Society of the U.S. February 14, 2017

Congress seeking to unwind decision by professional wildlife managers and restart inhumane and unethical hunting practices on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska

Congressional Review Act used to put American wildlife icons in line of fire

The Humane Society of the United States launched a hard-hitting television advertising campaign to stop a movement in Congress to allow egregious killing methods targeting grizzly bears and wolves in Alaska on National Wildlife Refuges – the one category of federal lands specifically set aside for the benefit of wildlife.

A commercial depicting the wolf cubs and bears killed in their dens or scouted by planes or baited and killed in other cruel ways under Congressional Review Act Joint Resolution H.J. Res. 69 will run on CNN, FoxNews, and MSNBC in the first go-around for this campaign.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=H2F6BjJCQcs&feature=youtu.be

“Killing hibernating bears, shooting wolf pups in their dens, and chasing down grizzlies by aircraft and then shooting them on the ground is not the stuff of some depraved video game,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “It is exactly what Don Young is trying to restore on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska. No decent person should support this appalling, despicable treatment of wildlife.”

Specifically, H.J. Res. 69 would overturn the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s rule prohibiting inhumane and scientifically unjustified killing methods – including shooting or trapping wolves while at their dens in the spring when they are rearing pups, using airplanes to scout for grizzly bears to shoot, trapping of bears with cruel steel-jawed leghold traps and wire snares, and luring grizzly bears with food to get a point blank kill – on over 76 million acres of special federal lands in Alaska. The rule does not apply to subsistence hunting or restrict the killing of wildlife for public safety purposes or defense of property. The professional wildlife managers within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service drove this policy, after attempting to work with Alaska’s Board of Game for years.

H.J. Res. 69 would also block the Administration from ever issuing a rule on this topic, leaving the power to pass a law prohibiting these egregious hunting methods solely in the hands of Congress.   

Most Alaskans favor the rule and object to these barbaric practices. A 2016 poll conducted by Remington Research Group showed that Alaska voters strongly support eliminating these cruel and unsporting practices used to kill bears and wolves on National Wildlife Refuges in their state. “Driving down grizzly bear and wolf numbers on refuges is a prescription for drying up tourism and starving the gateway communities that benefit immensely from tourist dollars,” added Pacelle.  

Alaskan non-profit organizations including Alaskans FOR Wildlife, Alaska Wildlife Alliance, Friends of Alaska Wildlife Refuges, Lynn Canal Conservation, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, Oasis Earth, Resurrection Bay Conservation Alliance, Sierra Club – Alaska Chapter and the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council support the FWS rule and oppose H.J. Res. 69. 

Media Contact: Anna West: 301-258-1518; awest@humanesociety.org

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Featured image by John E Marriott

Citizens oppose bringing back grizzly bear hunting seasons that would allow the iconic bruins to be killed for fun.

Source: New poll says public opposes griz delisting 

The New West / By Todd Wilkinson | Posted 11 hours ago
  

Removing federal protection for Greater Yellowstone grizzly bears is opposed by a broad cross section of Americans. Even more disconcerting to citizens surveyed in a recent public opinion poll is allowing Wyoming, Montana and Idaho to carry out trophy sport hunts of bruins. 

Those are just two findings announced Tuesday by the Humane Society of the United States and the Jackson Hole-based conservation group Wyoming Wildlife Advocates. Together they commissioned a national polling organization to gauge public sentiment on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal to lift long-standing safeguards for bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
By a 3-1 margin the more than 3,000 citizens surveyed oppose bringing back grizzly bear hunting seasons that would allow the iconic bruins to be killed for fun.
“These polling results demonstrate that most Americans believe Yellowstone’s grizzly bears should not be killed for trophies,” said Nicole Paquette, vice president of wildlife protection for the Humane Society. “Not only is there no scientific justification for this premature proposal, there is no public appetite.”
The poll results arrive at a pivotal time, with more than 100,000 citizens already signing online petitions opposing grizzly delisting. In addition, tens of thousands are believed to be drafting written and oral comments. Many accuse the Fish and Wildlife Service of failing to adequately assess threats facing bear survival and not forcing states to clearly spell out how they would protect grizzlies if bears are returned to their custody.
Just last week a federal judge in Montana penned a strongly worded rebuke of the Fish and Wildlife Service for allegedly condoning political interference in preventing the listing of wolverines under the Endangered Species Act. The judge said the agency ignored science and did not fully acknowledge the threats to wolverine survival caused by climate change.  Click HERE to read more
Feature image by Jogn E Marriott