Early last month, the Grizzly bears that call Yellowstone National Park home were supposed to be open for hunters again after being placed on the endangered species list more than 40 years ago. However, some wildlife groups managed to sway some local officials to postpone the opening day of the hunt long enough for the government to take a deeper look at whether hunters should be able to take grizzlies as trophies. In just a few weeks, the U.S. District Court returned a decision that makes the conservation groups (and the bears!) very happy. Not only was the proposed hunt cancelled, but the Grizzlies that call Yellowstone home have once again been returned to the endangered species list.
The verbiage in the ruling stated that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service exceeded its legal authority when it removed the Yellowstone grizzlies from the endangered species list. It was determined that the Fish and Wildlife Service did not research how the removal of the Yellowstone grizzly would affect other grizzly populations throughout the lower 48 states.
While the recent decision is a win for the animals and those groups who feel they should be protected, this isn’t the first time that the Yellowstone grizzlies have been removed from the Endangered Species Act. The bears were removed from the list back in 2007, but after being sued by animal rights groups, the USFWS placed the bears back on the list in 2009.
The grizzly population in America is divided into five different population segments. The Yellowstone grizzly is one. The other segments are the Bitterroot, Northern Continental Divide, Selkirk/Cabinet-Yaak and North Cascades grizzlies. The federal government is using these delineations as a basis to try and remove the bears from the list. What the recent verdict is saying is that by doing that, the USFWS isn’t taking into consideration how the separate population groups are connected through breeding.
In an era where the Federal Government is loosening the reigns on environmental protection at a staggering rate, the decision regarding the Yellowstone grizzly is bound to have an effect on other species and the power of the Endangered Species Act.