Ad­vo­cates seek fur­ther delay of U.S. griz­zly hunts

Calgary Herald - - CITY + REGION -

BILLINGS, MONT. Op­po­nents of griz­zly bear hunts in Wy­oming and Idaho asked a judge Wed­nes­day for an­other two-week delay while he con­sid­ers if fed­eral pro­tec­tions for the an­i­mals should be re­stored.

U.S. Dis­trict Judge Dana Chris­tensen in Mis­soula, Mont., last month put on hold for two weeks the first griz­zly bear hunts to be sched­uled in the Lower 48 states in decades.

That or­der ex­pires Thurs­day, and hunt op­po­nents say state of­fi­cials could im­me­di­ately al­low bears to be killed.

The U.S. In­te­rior Depart­ment last year lifted pro­tec­tions on about 700 griz­zlies in and around Yel­low­stone Na­tional Park, af­ter gov­ern­ment bi­ol­o­gists de­ter­mined the an­i­mals have re­cov­ered and should be man­aged by state wildlife agen­cies.

Wildlife ad­vo­cates and Na­tive Amer­i­can tribes have sued to re­store their threat­ened species sta­tus.

Fewer than two dozen bears would be al­lowed to be killed in the hunts.

Idaho’s hunt­ing quota is one bear. Wy­oming ’s hunt has two parts: Out­ly­ing ar­eas with a quota of 12 bears, where hunt­ing was orig­i­nally sched­uled to start Sept. 1, and prime griz­zly habi­tat near Yel­low­stone and Grand Te­ton na­tional parks, where up to 10 bears could be killed be­gin­ning Satur­day.

Hunt op­po­nents said in a Wed­nes­day court fil­ing that the loom­ing Satur­day dead­line raises the stakes in the court bat­tle over whether the an­i­mals should be pro­tected.

At­tor­neys for the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and the states of Idaho and Wy­oming op­posed the delay.

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