Wyoming Wildlife Managers Suspend Grizzly Bear Hunt Following Ruling
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department announced Friday it has officially suspended the grizzly bear hunt, just one day before it was set to begin.
The decision comes in response to a Thursday ruling from U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen, who put a 14-day hold on grizzly hunts in Wyoming and Idaho while he decides whether the federal government was correct in lifting protections for the bears in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.
The suspension of the hunt will remain in place pending further direction, according to a statement from the department.
"This is unfortunate," Wyoming Game and Fish Department Director Scott Talbot said in Friday's statement. "Game and Fish has a robust grizzly bear management program with strong regulations, protections and population monitoring for grizzly bears. We believe in state-led management of wildlife and involving the public in decisions like the creation and implementation of a conservative hunting opportunity for those who want that experience."
The department's statement advised that the Wyoming Attorney General's Office would handle questions related to the review of Christensen's decision.
"We will now await further information about whether the bears will remain under state management or if they will go back to federal management," Talbott concluded.
The department has already begun notifying people who received a 2018 grizzly bear hunting license that the hunt is suspended.
"I am disappointed by this temporary restraining order," Governor Matt Mead said in a statement issued to news media on Friday. "Grizzly bear recovery should be viewed as a conservation success story. Due to Wyoming's investment approximately $50 million for recovery and management, grizzly bears have exceeded every scientifically established recovery criteria in the GYE since 2003. Numbers have risen from as few as 136 bears when they were listed in 1975, to more than 700 today."
Wyoming U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso also issued statements voicing disappointment with Christensen's ruling.