Grizzly Delisting Lawsuit

Sportsmen gain a foothold in anti-hunting litigation

USSA, Bear Hunting Magazine

Court Deems Sportsmen's Input Vital to Grizzly Delisting Lawsuit

A federal judge will allow the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance Foundation to defend sportsmen's interests in a lawsuit brought by anti's seeking to prevent the removal of recovered wildlife populations from the federal endangered list.

On Oct. 31, Judge Edward Lodge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho granted a U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance Foundation (USSAF) motion to file a brief with the Court addressing the substantive legal issues in the case from the sportsmens perspective. Anti-hunters sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in June, claiming it violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when it removed from the federal endangered list the distinct populations of abundant grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Sportsmen support the delisting and are concerned that efforts to obstruct it will prevent states from resuming rightful control of healthy wildlife populations.

Anti-hunters filed suit to exploit imprecise language that exists in the Endangered Species Act and use the law as a tool to eliminate hunting. They seem to ignore the fact that the ESA has allowed once-troubled grizzly populations to recover; they strictly want to use the ESA to ban hunting.

The FWS removed Yellowstone grizzly bears from the endangered list on April 30 after determining that federal recovery efforts have been successful and the animals are no longer threatened.

Judge Lodge also granted motions by the Wyoming and Idaho wildlife agencies to join the case as defendants. He agreed that the states have sufficient stake in the litigation. At the same time, he denied motions to intervene by Safari Club International, Idaho Wildlife Federation, Montana Wildlife Federation and Wyoming Wildlife Federation, determining their interests would be adequately represented by the state and federal agencies.

Plaintiffs in the case against the FWS include the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and Center for Biological Diversity.

This is the latest lawsuit brought by the anti's to manipulate the ESA to eliminate hunting. The USSAF is representing sportsmens interests in a similar case to allow states to resume management control of abundant gray wolf populations in the upper Midwest that were once endangered. It is also involved in a potentially precedent-setting lawsuit in Minnesota that would ban trapping to prevent incidental catch of lynx. A suit brought in Florida would make black bears in the state off-limits to sportsmen by classifying them as a sub-species and listing them as endangered.

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