Judge’s ruling to decide whether grizzly bear hunts resume

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A judge will decide whether the Lower 48 states’ first grizzly bear hunt in four decades will open as scheduled this weekend.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ruled in 2017 that the grizzly population of approximately 700 bears living in and around Yellowstone National Park has recovered and is no longer a threatened species.

That decision allowed Idaho and Wyoming to plan grizzly hunts in areas outside of Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks starting Saturday.

Montana, the third state where Yellowstone grizzlies live, is not holding a hunt this year.

Wildlife advocates and Native American tribes are urging U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen to reinstate federal protections, saying threats to the species’ survival remain.

A hearing is scheduled Thursday in Missoula, Montana. Christensen plans to rule before Saturday.