U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen ruled on Monday that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was wrong to remove grizzly bears from Endangered Species Act protection. Despite the fact that the planned grizzly hunt, which should have started on Sept. 1, was a strong source of protest from those who wanted the bears placed back under federal protection, the judge said the case was “not about the ethics of hunting.” The judge said his ruling was based on whether or not federal officials adequately considered threats to the longevity of the species after protections were lifted last year.
I’m not a bear biologist, so I don’t know all the details those who have actually been studying the bears for 40 years know. But those bear biologists, who work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the Idaho Game and Fish Department, and Montana Fish and Game, as well as a bunch of other agencies, do know all those details. And they agree that the bears have recovered to the point that their population has outgrown their habitat.
We lost a hunting guide to a bear attack less than two weeks ago. He was killed by an especially aggressive bear that later tried to attack Game and Fish biologists. We’ve had increasing instances of grizzlies wandering into populated areas. And it’s all because there are more bears out there than the habitat can support.
Now this. There are already people screaming for the dissolution of the Endangered Species Act, which, for the record, I think would be a bad move. But refusing to remove protections from a species that has met the recovery goals, and more, is bad for the bears themselves, bad for the people who live around them, and bad for the Endangered Species Act.
You want to protect bears? Let us manage them.