CODY — Following on the heels of state legislation authorizing state grizzly bear management, members of Wyoming’s congressional delegation are reintroducing a bill to authorize just that.
Sen. Mike Enzi and Rep. Liz Cheney introduced the Grizzly Bear State Management Act, which directs the Department of the Interior to reissue its delisting decision and prohibits further judicial review of the decision.
“It’s clear that under the Endangered Species Act, grizzly bears in the Yellowstone region are fully recovered, that they should be delisted and management returned to the states,” Enzi said. “I have been working on this issue for over 20 years, and we already knew back then that grizzly bears had already fully recovered.
“Unfortunately, we have seen environmental groups take advantage of the court system in the face of wildlife management experts and the science presented before us. Our legislation would finally right that wrong by once again delisting the bears and stopping further frivolous litigation on this issue.”
In 2018, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined “The (grizzly bear) population has rebounded from as few as 136 bears in 1975 to an estimated 700 today and meets all the criteria for delisting.”
G&F had previously prepared a fall hunt for 11 grizzlies in the Demographic Monitoring Area bordering Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and an additional 12 grizzlies outside of that area.
That hunt was stopped at the last minute last fall by a federal district court judge in Missoula, Mont., who then ruled the bears should return to protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.
The state and federal governments have already signaled their intent to appeal that decision to federal circuit court.
“The Grizzly Bear State Management Act stops the abuse of the court system by environmental extremists, safeguards the scientifically proven delisting determination and puts management of the grizzly bear back in the hands of Wyoming,” Cheney said. “I’m pleased to reintroduce this bill and continue fighting for the important work done by the state of Wyoming to establish its own effective grizzly bear management plan.
“The decision by a Federal District Court Judge in Montana to re-list the grizzly ignores science and reinstates one-size fits all federal management. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and with President Trump to fight for Wyoming’s statutory right to manage wildlife.”
Groups opposed to a grizzly hunt, which praised the federal court decision last fall, have come out against moves to again allow state management.
“This state law directly and unlawfully conflicts with the clear mandate of the federal Endangered Species Act that grizzly bears not be shot by trophy hunters seeking their heads and hides for bragging rights,” said Nicholas Arrivo, a staff attorney with the Humane Society of the United States.