For Immediate Release
Federal Court Green-lights Bear Baiting Lawsuit
WASHINGTON - A federal court in Boise today denied the Trump administration’s attempt to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to stop black bear baiting in national forests in Idaho and Wyoming – a practice known to result in the deaths of endangered grizzly bears.
U.S. magistrate judge Candy Dale ordered the suit may proceed despite the Forest Service’s claim that it need not re-evaluate how baiting can affect grizzlies. The Forest Service last looked at the issue 25 years ago, and concluded no grizzlies would be affected – a conclusion demonstrated to be false.
In June 2019, wildlife groups filed suit to challenge the Forest Service’s decision that states could allow hunters to use bait to hunt black bears in grizzly habitat in national forests. Only Idaho and Wyoming do so.
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The groups assert baiting has led to at least 10 recent grizzly deaths in Idaho and Wyoming, often due to mistaken identity.
“States should not allow baiting that can attract grizzlies and lead to their deaths,” said Pete Frost, attorney for the Western Environmental Law Center. “Grizzlies have been shot near bait, and more may die, unless the Forest Service properly acts.”
The court ruled the Forest Service must “reinitiate consultation” with the Fish and Wildlife Service to obtain its opinion whether the continued use of bait may jeopardize the continued existence of grizzlies. The court also ruled the Forest Service did not need to re-evaluate the environmental effects of its overall national policy.
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The Western Environmental Law Center is a nonprofit public interest law firm that works to protect and restore western wildlands and advocates for a healthy environment on behalf of communities throughout the West.