Lawsuit Over U.S. Bear Baiting Ban Continues After Federal Judge Rejects Dismissal Request

by Jon D. B.

The federal judge has rejected the Trump administration’s request for dismissal of their high-profile bear baiting lawsuit after determining environmental groups are backed by remaining laws.

Legal battling between Idaho and Wyoming environmentalists and the Trump Administration will continue. For the second time, a federal judge has rejected the current presidential administration’s requests to throw out a lawsuit filed by the states’ leading environmental groups. The groups aim to ban using bait in the hunting of black bears in their national forests.

Together, the groups argue against the use of bear-baiting, citing that the use of bait directly violates environmental laws. The violations come in the form of local hunters killing at least 10 federally protected grizzly bears brought in by the bait.

Specifically, the current U.S. government’s national policy is a target of the lawsuit. The specific laws in question allow states to decide if hunters can legally use bait for black bears within grizzly bear habitat. This includes Idaho and Wyoming national forests – as well as all others in the U.S. Currently, Idaho and Wyoming governments allow the practice.

The Trump administration, however, continues to fight the lawsuit. Their argument against the environmentalist’s case anchors on their withdrawal of mid-1900s documents last summer. According to the administration, the lawsuit is “invalid”. Trump lawmakers threw out the decades-old legislature on which this lawsuit is based.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Rejects Trump Administration’s Dismissal Request

The administration’s request to have the lawsuit against them thrown out has now been nullified by federal court for the second time. U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale made the rejection last week. In doing so, she cites that the “withdrawn mid-1900’s documents” were of direct use in the creation of 1995 hunting laws. These laws remain in effect.

Moreover, Dale orders each side to schedule for additional court proceedings on the merits of the case.

According to Spokane news outlet KXLY, “Dale note[s] in particular that both the withdrawn documents were expressly referenced as support of the U.S. Forest Service’s conclusion that the national bear-baiting policy that remains in effect provides the needed safeguards in all states to allow bear-baiting.”

In addition, their coverage states that “Dale also allowed Western Watersheds Project and two other environmental groups to file a supplement to their initial complaint concerning the withdrawal of those mid-1990s documents, which the environmental groups contend is illegal.”

Bear Baiting Practice Continues

In the practice of bear-baiting, hunters will place food directly within a bear habitat. Then, the aim is to hide in waiting for a bear to take the bait. The bear is then killed when in range. Often, the bait includes human foods and trash that bears do not have access to in the wild.

The practice attracts all species of bears, including grizzly bears. Grizzlys, however, are protected by the aforementioned 1995 policy. The policy is upheld by both the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Conservationists argue within the ongoing lawsuit that this practice has led to black bear baiters killing 10 or more grizzly bears. Grizzlies are also under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. The lawsuit also points out that bear baiting is now legal in areas that are vital to grizzly bears. These areas include the Greater Yellowstone and Bitterroot ecosystems local to Idaho & Wyoming.

“The federal government protects grizzly bears in the Yellowstone region as a threatened species,” clarifies Outsider‘s Emily Morgan. “Illegally killing one is punishable by up to six months in prison and a $25,000 fine. In addition, the U.S. government protects Grizzly bears from harm in the lower 48 states.”

The Idaho and Wyoming lawsuit will move forward as incidents such as this Grizzly Bear Illegally Killed in Wyoming continue.