First lawsuit of the “grizzly war” filed

In the first legal skirmish since the US Fish and Wildlife Service proposed delisting the grizzly bears of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, a lawsuit has been filed against the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the Commission that oversees it’s affairs.

Jim Laybourn, a Wyoming filmmaker (and board member of Wyoming Wildlife Advocates), along with the Humane Society of the US and the Center for Biological Diversity filed the suit claiming that Wyoming illegally limited public notice and comment on two of the states final agency rules regarding grizzly bear trophy hunting by failing to follow proper procedure as required under the Wyoming Administrative Procedures Act.

Laybourn, a lifelong resident of Wyoming who has spent thousands of hours in the field observing grizzlies, said “I am deeply concerned about the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission’s apparent lack of respect for the will of the public. Grizzly bears are the keystone species of both our ecosystem and our economy, worth tens of millions in tourism dollars each year. The management plan will remain fatally flawed until the Commission gives the community whose livelihood depends on grizzlies an opportunity to make their voices heard.”

The two “agency rules” are the “Wyoming Grizzly Bear Management Plan” and the “Memorandum of Agreement Regarding the Management and Allocation of Discretionary Mortality of Grizzly Bears in the Greater Yellowstone Area.” Both were recently ratified by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission.

The Memorandum, commonly referred to as the Tri-State Agreement, is an agreement that allocates the number of grizzlies allowed to be killed — either by management removals or authorized trophy hunting — by the states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho  once the bears are delisted and they lose many of the protections provided by the Endangered Species Act.

The state agencies have 20 days to respond to the suit.

Laybourn, HSUS and CBD released a joint press release