Someone Just Did The Best Thing For These Beloved Yellowstone Grizzly Bears
“So many people poured their hearts and souls into saving these grizzly bears."
Two dozen beloved grizzly bears living in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem just got their lives back this week to the great joy of the people who have been fighting to protect them.
“So many people poured their hearts and souls into saving these grizzly bears," Matthew Bishop, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center, one of the organizations that fought to protect the bears, said in a release. "And in the end justice prevailed.”
The victory comes at the end of a battle that's been going on since the beloved bears were stripped of Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections last year by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
This year, after the bears were stripped of protections, Idaho and Wyoming proposed hunts that would allow trophy hunters to gun down 24 grizzly bears — even though there are only about 1,200 of these bears left in the whole U.S. Hundreds of thousands of people signed a petition against the proposed hunt.
A federal judge has now restored protections to the bears at the last minute, saying that the USFWS acted "arbitrarily and capriciously" in delisting the bears from ESA protections without sufficient evidence that the bears weren't still vulnerable to extinction. The decision saved the lives of the two dozen bears who would have been gunned down in the Idaho and Wyoming hunts, and potentially many more in the future.
“The importance of today’s ruling cannot be overstated," Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians, said on Monday. "Now, not only do the Yellowstone region’s bears have a fighting chance, so too do grizzlies across the lower 48. We are gratified the court ... stepped in to stop a cascade of events that would have put this already struggling icon of the West closer to extinction.”
There used to be 37 distinct grizzly bear populations across the country, but that was back in 1922. Only six of those populations survive today; the other 31 populations were killed off or died because of habitat loss.
"Today’s win is an important one, and it is an encouraging reminder of what can be achieved in the fight for all animals,” Kitty Block, acting president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), wrote this week. "Let’s celebrate today, but let’s also resolve to stand strong against unnecessary and dangerous efforts to dismantle protections for American wildlife. Wild animals need our best effort, now more than ever."