Frustration Over Federal Judge’s Grizzly Bear Ruling from RMEF
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Sportsmen’s Alliance stated on Tuesday that they are diametrically opposed to the ruling by Federal Judge Dana Christensen that restored endangered species status to the Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bears.
RMEF spokesman Mark Holyoak said the various government agencies followed all the correct steps to ensure that the Yellowstone grizzly bear population had sufficiently recovered prior to delisting, and then the court stepped in and undid years of cooperation and effort with the stroke of a judge’s pen.
“It’s just so frustrating,” said Holyoak. “For people who live in the northern Rockies, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming and that region, we’ve been down this path multiple times before. For instance with the gray wolf that has recovered. Year after year, again and again, more litigation is filed and it just continues to push the goalposts back, and that’s what we’ve got here.”
Holyoak said the same process was played out with the same species, the Yellowstone grizzly bear several years ago.
“It was 11 years ago, back in 2007 where a similar ruling was made and went through the same long process, and again, right after the delisting announcement was made they were put back on,” he said. “Then a few years later it was argued that there was a lack of white bark pine and it’s just one thing after another that makes it so frustrating, mainly because we see that wildlife populations thrive under state management.”
One of the driving forces behind the effort to relist the Yellowstone grizzlies was the fact that Wyoming had scheduled a trophy hunt, and environmental groups urged the judge to act quickly just to prevent the hunt. Holyoak said hunting is the key management tool for wildlife species.
“If you take hunting off the table, first there would be a huge lack of funding since the monies from hunting licenses goes to conservation,” he said. “There would be so many deer and elk that you risk the habitat being pounded down, and then you have issues of starvation and disease. So, hunting is a key tool for management of wildlife.”