Judge extends order blocking grizzly hunt

By Rob Chaney for the Missoulian

A federal judge has blocked the start of grizzly bear hunting seasons for another two weeks while he finishes a ruling on the legality of ending Endangered Species Act protection for bears around Yellowstone National Park.

“There remain serious questions regarding whether FWS (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) complied with the Administrative Procedure Act and the Endangered Species Act in delisting the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear population,” U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen wrote on Thursday. “If the court does not extend the temporary restraining order, as many as 23 bears may be killed in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Their death would cause irreparable injury to the plaintiffs.”

The order blocked the first half of Wyoming’s first grizzly hunt in four decades, which was to begin on Sept. 1. A second phase of the hunting season in areas close to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks was set to start on Saturday.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared grizzly bears in the 9,209-square-mile Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho recovered in 2017. That passed management of those grizzlies to state wildlife agencies. Idaho and Wyoming officials set grizzly hunting seasons for this fall. Montana’s Fish and Wildlife Commission anticipated legal challenges and opted to delay a hunt decision.

A coalition of environmentalists, conservation groups and Indian tribes sued the federal government, arguing it had failed in many ways to prove the estimated 750 bears in the GYE could persist under state agency management or to show the delisting wouldn’t damage survival prospects for grizzlies in five other recovery zones.

Lawyers for the federal government, states and several hunting organizations countered that the Greater Yellowstone population had met all the recovery requirements in the law, and hunting seasons were needed to reassure local residents that they would be kept safe from predatory bears.

Christensen wrote that his restraining order was different from a temporary or permanent injunction on the delisting. “The present extension will provide the court the time it needs to fully consider and respond to the parties’ arguments,” he wrote. Temporary extensions typically aren’t argued by both sides and cannot be appealed.

“Even temporary measures like a two-week restraining order protect these bears from the immediate threats of the hunting season,” Alliance for the Wild Rockies Director Mike Garrity wrote in an email after the order was published. “But the grizzly is still facing long-term threats that the government hasn’t yet meaningfully addressed.”

The order has no effect on a separate effort by the Fish and Wildlife Service to delist grizzlies in Montana’s Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. The 16,000-square mile NCDE includes Glacier National Park, the Mission Mountain and Bob Marshall Wilderness areas and parts of the Flathead and Blackfeet Indian reservations, and holds about 1,050 grizzlies. FWS has proposed delisting those bears by the end of 2018.

The Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem in northwestern Montana and the Selkirk Ecosystem along the northern Idaho-Washington border each have an estimated 50 grizzlies. The Selway-Bitterroot Ecosystem and North Cascades Ecosystem have no resident grizzlies, yet have official recovery plans in place.

Source: Missoulian

MSGA Comments on Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Delisting

Contact:  Kori Anderson


MSGA Applauds News of Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Delisting

HELENA (June 22, 2017) – Today, the Montana Stockgrowers Association released the following statement in response to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s announcement that the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear is being delisted under the Endangered Species Act (ESA):

“The Montana Stockgrowers Association applauds the action taken by Secretary Zinke and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear,” noted Errol Rice Executive Vice President for the Montana Stockgrowers Association. “This has been a priority of the association for years and this is a critical first step for the State of Montana to regain management of the bear population.”



The Montana Stockgrowers Association, a non-profit organization representing nearly 2,500 members, strives to serve, protect and advance the economic, political, environmental and cultural interests of cattle producers, the largest sector of Montana’s number one industry – agriculture.

Living with Grizzly Bears

MSGA Director Wayne Slaght of Orlando, MT shares his practices for living with grizzly bears

Written by Wayne Slaght, Ovando, MT


Grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide have continued to be in the headlines, due mostly to the numerous conflicts with both humans and livestock. With an estimated population of over 1000 bears in this area and along the Rocky Mountain Front, these animals continue to expand their range and encounters with landowners. As a director on the MSGA board and ranch manager in the heart of grizzly bear territory, I wanted to share with the membership some of my experiences and some of the practices we have implemented to help reduce conflicts with grizzly bears and livestock depredations.

Our ranch is located near Ovando, which is about 50 miles east of Missoula. The first grizzly bears showed up on our ranch about 15 years ago. Our first experiences dealt with livestock depredations and significant conflicts in the spring during calving. Our concerns focused on the safety of our family and livestock and the uncertainty of how to deal with this large carnivore. The first steps our ranch took were to electric fence our calving lots. We received financial help from U.S. Fish and Wildlife services, Montana Fish and Wildlife, NRCS and various other concerned groups. We have installed electric fence around our calving lots and around some of the fields where the pairs are turned into and since doing this, we have had no bear problems in these areas. After proof of this, other ranchers in this valley have now installed electric fences in the same way and the area now has over 12 miles of electric fencing around calving lots.

Dead animals and dead animal sights are a great attractant to grizzly bears and this leads to problem bears. We needed to find a means of disposing the carcasses without tempting the bears in close to our cattle and our homes. A carcass pick up program was started in our valley with the financial help of a local group, The Blackfoot Challenge. We were fortunate enough to have the donation of a truck and soon found a driver to pick up and the carcasses and deliver them to a compost site. The Montana Department of Transportation was fundamental in helping us set up this compost site. We began by cleaning up the dead animal pits of ranchers willing to cooperate with the project. The truck runs from the middle of February until the end of May stopping by each ranch twice a week to pick up any animals lost during the calving season. In the beginning, it wasn’t easy to get all ranchers on board but now, basically all the ranchers in this area believe in the project and are using it. This tool continues to be used and has definitely helped to keep the bears at bay.

We have also had problems with bears getting into sheds that contain grain and mineral. Last year we purchased 2 ocean containers with the help of Montana Fish and Game and another agency. We ended up paying for one half of the cost and the containers have proved to work well.There was a time and not so long ago that we didn’t have the Grizzly Bear problems that we have now, in fact, it was a very rare thing to see one roaming this valley. But now, they are here and we have to find ways to deal with them. I realize it can be awkward and a hassle, time consuming and costly but I feel it’s incredibly important to implement tools to help and then to use the available tools to keep livestock depredation down and our families safe. There are programs, grants and other means of assistance out there to help financially and I would like to suggest that you take advantage of them. Since we have implemented these tools and have put them to use, we have had no livestock depredation to the grizzly bear in 12 years, yet, we seem them on a daily basis.

If you check with the staff at the MSGA office or me, we would be glad to help you in any way. It’s our desire to help alleviate problems with the bears.

MSGA Voices Support for the Delisting of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Grizzly Bear

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed the delisting of the grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem as it has recovered and no longer meets the definition of an endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, as amended. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the GYE grizzly bear population has increased in size and more than tripled its occupied range since being listed and that threats to the population are sufficiently minimized.

MSGA is in full support of the delisting of the GYE grizzly bear and will be submitting formal comments. If you would like to submit comments you may through the federal register; the deadline for comments is May 10, 2016. If you have any questions or concerns please contact the MSGA Office or kori@mtbeef.org.GYE Grizzly-Map