Score one for the bears: A judge has restored protection for a group of around 700 grizzly bears living around Yellowstone National Park, meaning Wyoming and Idaho will have to call off the first bear hunts planned in the lower 48 states in nearly 30 years. Judge Dana Christensen, siding with wildlife groups against Trump administration policies, said the ruling was "not about the ethics of hunting," but about whether threats to the species' long-term survival had been considered when protections were lifted last year, the BBC reports. It would be "simplistic at best and disingenuous at worst" for federal authorities not to consider how removing protection would affect grizzly bears in other areas where populations have been recovering, Christensen wrote.
Alliance for the Wild Rockies Director Michael Garrity tells the Billings Gazette that the bears' situation is comparable to an isolated town of 700 people where people become inbred after a few generations. "The same thing is happening to Yellowstone grizzlies," he says. "They can't be recovered until their population is reconnected to the grizzly bear population around Glacier Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness area." Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead was among the officials who reacted with disappointment, the AP reports. "Grizzly bear recovery should be viewed as a conservation success story," he said, arguing that the ruling shows why Congress should make changes to the Endangered Species Act. (Read more grizzly bear stories.)