A federal judge in Montana blocked the opening of the first grizzly bear hunts in the Yellowstone area since 1974, which was set to begin Saturday.
U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen issued a 14-day restraining order just two days before Wyoming and Idaho were set to open licensed grizzly hunts. The hut would allow killing of 23 bears for sport.
The Northern Cheyenne tribe, Sierra Club and other environmental groups had challenged the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and US Fish and Wildlife Service 2017 decision to cease to list the bear as threatened. That left grizzly management to the discretion of the states.
Grizzlies were all but eradicated from the US by the middle of the 20th century from hunting, trapping and habitat destruction. They were listed as a threatened species in 1075 and have been protected from hunting.
Their numbers have improved over the last 40 years yet numbers still stand at fewer than 2,000 bears, compared to an historic high of 100,000 before extermination campaigns.
The lawsuit alleged the FWS failed to address evidence that the grizzly remains threatened. Christensen found they were likely to prevail at trial and so blocked the hunt.
Case: Northern Cheyenne tribe v. Zinke, No. 17-119