Yellowstone grizzly bear hunting ban upheld in US

Los Angeles (AFP) –


A ban on hunting grizzly bears for sport in the Yellowstone region of the northwestern United States was upheld Wednesday, in a victory for conservationists and several indigenous tribes.

The decision by a federal appeals court in San Francisco cements the defeat of a President Donald Trump administration bid to lift the ban in Wyoming and Idaho states.

"The court rightfully rejected the misguided proposal to subject Yellowstone grizzlies to trophy hunting for the first time in 40 years," Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso said in a statement.

"The grizzly is an icon of our remaining wildness at a time when our wilderness is shrinking and our wildlife is under assault."

Federal wildlife officials in 2017 removed the region's grizzly bears from endangered species lists.

That would have paved the way for trophy hunts outside the bounds of the nation's oldest national park, Yellowstone.

The Northern Cheyenne Tribe and conservationist groups launched an immediate lawsuit, arguing the species' survival remains precarious.

It secured a temporary halt and won a district court ruling.

Wednesday's 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling confirmed that decision, ruling the US Fish and Wildlife Service had failed to properly assess the impact of future hunting on the bears, and ordering it to re-examine the science.

The Crow Indian Tribe, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Piikani Nation were among other plaintiffs named in the lawsuit.

Grizzly bears once flourished across the West's wilderness, but only around 1,500 survive today in the 48 lower US states.

Around half of those are in the Yellowstone region, where numbers have more than quadrupled since the ban was introduced.