The Legal Fight For Yellowstone’s Grizzly Bears as of August 30, 2018
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EarthJustice: Because the Earth Needs a Good Lawyer
August 2018

On August 30, Judge Christensen granted a temporary restraining order, halting the grizzly bear hunt, for 14 days... further litigation pending.

grizzly bear and cub
Yellowstone Grizzly Bear - Image by Jim Robertson, Animals in the Wild

What happened on August 30:

  • ORAL ARGUMENTS WERE DELIVERED over four hours at Russell Smith Courthouse in Missoula in the lawsuit challenging removal of federal protections for Yellowstone's grizzly bears. During the hearing, Judge Dana L. Christensen did not issue a decision in the case.
  • Directly following the hearing, EARTHJUSTICE ATTORNEYS FILED A REQUEST FOR A TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER to halt the Sept. 1 trophy hunts, while the judge decides the merits of the case.
  • Hours later, JUDGE CHRISTENSEN GRANTED THE TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER, halting the hunts for 14 days.

YELLOWSTONE'S GRIZZLY BEARS ARE AT RISK OF EXTINCTION. One of the last strongholds for grizzlies is Yellowstone National Park and its surrounding public land. This unique region is one of the few remaining great ecosystems of the world.

IN DEFIANCE OF THE BEST AVAILABLE SCIENCE, U.S. FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE STRIPPED YELLOWSTONE'S GRIZZLY BEARS OF ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT PROTECTIONS. The 2017 decision opened the door for grizzlies to be legally trophy hunted in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, when the bears cross the invisible boundaries of Yellowstone National Park.

grizzly bear
Grizzly Bear - Image by Jim Robertson, Animals in the Wild

EARTHJUSTICE FILED AN IMMEDIATE LEGAL CHALLENGE IN FEDERAL COURT. The lawsuit is ongoing, with oral arguments presented on Aug. 30. Earthjustice's Bozeman-based attorneys Timothy Preso and Josh Purtle are representing the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, and National Parks Conservation Association in the lawsuit.

THE LAWSUIT ASKS THE COURT TO INVALIDATE THE AGENCY'S DECISION AND RESTORE FEDERAL PROTECTIONS FOR THE GRIZZLIES. The lawsuit challenges the agency's decision on the basis that it violates the Endangered Species Act. The Act is one of the most effective environmental laws ever enacted. In its four decades, 99% of species protected under the law have survived. (More details on the lawsuit.)

TROPHY HUNTS IN WYOMING AND IDAHO, SCHEDULED TO BEGIN SEPT. 1, WERE HALTED BY THE COURT FOR 14 DAYS. The hunts represent a major new threat to the grizzlies’ survival and would be the first in 40 years. Following the Aug. 30 court hearing, Earthjustice filed a request for a temporary restraining order to stop the hunts, as the court decides the outcome of the legal challenge.

EARTHJUSTICE HAS WORKED FOR DECADES TO SAFEGUARD YELLOWSTONE’S GRIZZLIES — including challenging an attempt in 2007 to remove federal protections. Earthjustice attorneys methodically documented the decline of whitebark pine trees and demonstrated the importance of the food source to the grizzlies, using the government's own studies. The work successfully reoriented the legal argument to comport with biological facts.

THE EARTH NEEDS A GOOD LAWYER. With 120 environmental attorneys across the country, Earthjustice advances the right to a healthy environment for all. On behalf of public-interest clients across the country, our attorneys have filed more than one hundred lawsuits against the Trump administration's attempts to ignore environmental laws and deny protections to the American public. The law is on our side.

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