U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen issued a 14-day temporary restraining order on the scheduled grizzly bear hunting season that was supposed to have been open for five days today. He issued that restraining order on Thursday, only a few days before the season should have begun.
Yesterday I noted that the decision was likely swayed more by politics and emotion that pure science. I admit that by making that accusation, I am as guilty of making assumptions about how the federal judge was doing his job as he was guilty of making assumptions about how the biologists had been doing theirs. That may have been a bit unfair of me. The judge is no scientist, but I’m no lawyer. I don’t know how well the biologists from Wyoming, Idaho and the Fish and Wildlife Service presented their case.
Yet one of the arguments the judge used to make his decision was the assertion that the Fish and Wildlife Service ignored recent spikes in overall bear deaths. Yes, there have been more bear deaths in Yellowstone and the surrounding areas this year than there have been in the past. But there are more bears in the area than there have been in 50 years. With more bears, there will of course be more bear deaths. And those bears that die of starvation, disease, being hit by vehicles, or from fights with other bears will die slowly and painfully. If we take a few of the surplus bears out of the population through hunting, fewer bears will have to die so slowly and horribly. A hunter’s bullet makes for a much more humane death for a bear than a festering wound or a lingering illness.
But I guess the animal activists don’t care about that. They just want to see as many bears as they can, even if those bears are dying a slow, painful death.