Congresswoman Liz Cheney and U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, both R-Wyo., have joined hands in re-introducing an act returning grizzly bear management to Wyoming.
The Grizzly Bear State Management Act directs the U.S. Department of the Interior to re-issue its 2018 decision to delist grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) from the endangered species list and would block further judicial review of the decision.
Grizzly bears in the GYE are fully recovered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Enzi said, indicating that the bears should be delisted and their management returned to the states.
“I have been working on this issue for over 20 years, and we already knew back then that grizzly bears had already fully recovered,” Enzi continued.
Three months after the GYE grizzly bear population was removed from the endangered species list, environmentalist groups brought the matter before Federal District Court Judge Dana Christensen in Montana.
The groups alleged that state and federal researchers had failed to use the best possible science to support their recommendations to delist the bears.
In a move widely criticized by researchers, and U.S. and state politicians, Christensen ruled in favor of the environmentalists, restoring full ESA protections to the GYE grizzly populations and blocking the first Wyoming grizzly hunts in decades.
Cheney ridiculed Christensen’s decision, referring to it as an abuse of the court system that disregarded “important work done by [Wyoming] to establish an effective grizzly bear management plan.”
Cheney cast the first stone in the battle to overturn Christensen’s ruling by initially introducing the Grizzly Bear State Management Act in September 2018.
But after months of inactivity, Cheney has once again introduced the act, weeks after the Wyoming Legislature passed a bill essentially shoving aside Christensen’s decision and authorizing a grizzly bear hunt.
After months of silence, believing they had achieved a great victory, environmentalists are up in arms against the state, threatening a lawsuit if Wyoming proceeds with the hunts.
“We will not stand idly by while Wyoming moves to illegally take authority for managing grizzly bears and subject them to trophy hunts,” Bonnie Rice, senior representative with the Sierra Club, stated.
Erik Molvar, wildlife biologists and executive Wildlife Biologist and Executive Director for the Western Watersheds Project, accused Wyoming of being stuck in a “19th century mindset in which the response to every situation is to kill off native predators.”
Regardless, Cheney and Enzi have Wyoming’s back, though U.S. Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo., has yet to announce his support one way or another.
“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,” stated Enzi, adding that the act would stop further “frivolous” litigation on the issue.
Cheney added that she will continue to work with fellow members of Congress and with President Donald Trump to “fight for Wyoming’s statutory right to manage wildlife.”