I wrote about this earlier when the original hunt was going to commence, but an emergency injunction was placed which prevented that hunt from happening. That emergency injunction turned into an overturn of the delisting, as a Federal judge said the original removal was unconstitutional. The Great Bear Hunt of 2018, is officially off (as of this writing). You can read the whole court document in the second source listed above, but in my mind it’s somewhat irrelevant.
This is FAR from the last of this issue you will hear, because at this point it isn’t about science. It’s about politics and a time investment from both sides that will have them refusing to quit until it goes their way. Good news for the involved environmental attorneys to be honest. In my original post I wrote that I was morally against the hunt, but scientifically unopposed to it. I still feel that way, but unfortunately this isn’t going to be about science anymore. The anti-grizzly crowd is going to challenge this immediately, which will lead to a deeper and deeper rabbit hole of court room time. The fact of the matter is that a limit of 23 bears were going to be hunted, a very minimal percentage of their overall population. The other fact of the matter is that people were looking at this issue through the wrong optics. Everyone viewed this as a moral issue of whether or not Grizzlies should or shouldn’t be hunted; instead it should be looked at as one of the biggest success stories in American wildlife conservation history. Whether you agree or disagree with the delisting, the fact that it’s even being brought up should be a sign of successful conservation.
One thing is for certain though, and that is that this is a baaaaad look on the United States Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) part. Sure, they get sued by environmental groups all the time. That is nothing new to them. This goes beyond that though, in that they were essentially found to be incompetent in their jobs for their reasoning of delisting the most charismatic species on the whole list. Without bogging you down too much with legal jargon, the USFWS is responsible for holding up the Endangered Species Act and basing their decisions to list/delist animals and plants based of the legal framework that the ESA provides. EarthJustice walked in the courtroom, basically trounced all over the USFWS and proved that not only was their reasoning faulty, the service didn’t even follow the protocol that THEY ARE IN CHARGE OF ADMINISTRATING.
I don’t see this being the end of this issue for the reasons issued above, but I’ll admit I don’t hate the fact that people can’t walk into the woods and shoot these marvelous beasts.
I do have one qualm with the statement issued by The Center for Biological Diversity.
Judge Rules Trump Administration Unlawfully Removed Federal Protections
That is the headline for the press release. “Trump” is such a trigger word these days that it’s become low-hanging fruit for attention from left and right wingers alike. I can say with the upmost confidence Donald Trump had ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with this decision to delist the grizzlies. In fact, I would bet that the USFWS officers who did most of this research and administration of policy worked there during Obama’s tenure and likely Bush’s before that as only the most senior officers would be tasked to make this decision.
Be Better, Center For Biological Diversity.