U.S. judge orders federal protection restored to Yellowstone grizzlies

FILE PHOTO: A grizzly bear roams through the Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, U.S. on May 18, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart/File Photo

By Laura Zuckerman

PINEDALE, Wyo. (Reuters) – A federal judge on Monday ordered Endangered Species Act protections restored to grizzlies in and around Yellowstone National Park, halting plans for the first licensed trophy hunts of the bears in the region in more than 40 years.

U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen in Missoula, Montana, sided with environmentalists and native American groups by overruling the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to strip the grizzlies of their status as a threatened species.

The outcome caps one of the most high-profile legal battles over the Endangered Species Act in many years, rivaling previous disputes surrounding the gray wolf and northern spotted owl.

The ruling came as the Trump administration is seeking to rewrite Endangered Species Act regulations that scientists say would erode wildlife protection for the benefit of commercial interests.

The Trump administration’s decision in June of last year to “de-list” the grizzly, formally proposed in 2016 during the Obama era, was based on agency findings that the bears’ numbers had rebounded enough in recent decades that federal safeguards were no longer necessary.

The de-listing, welcomed by big-game hunters and cattlemen, had applied to about 700 Yellowstone-area grizzlies in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.

Environmentalists countered that treating those bears separately from other grizzly populations in Montana and elsewhere in the Lower 48 states was biologically unsound and illegal under the Endangered Species Act, and the judge agreed.

Grizzlies, which are slow to reproduce, number fewer than 2,000 bears across the Lower 48. That is far below an historic high of 100,000 before widespread shooting, poisoning and trapping reduced the bears’ population to just several hundred by 1975, when they were placed under federal protection.

Environmentalists have said that while grizzlies have made a comeback, their recovery could falter without continued federal safeguards. They point to, among other things, alterations in the bears’ food supply from climate change and human threats posed by poachers and road traffic.


Christensen found that the Fish and Wildlife Service had failed to apply the best available science, as required under the law, in evaluating continued threats to grizzly populations, including limitations in its genetic diversity.

The judge pointed to two studies cited by the agency that he said actually contradicted the government’s own conclusions that the Yellowstone grizzlies could remain genetically self-sufficient. In his 47-page opinion, Christensen called the agency’s reasoning “illogical.”

The judge’s ruling makes permanent a court order barring Wyoming and Idaho from going ahead with plans to open grizzly hunting seasons allowing as many as 23 bears in the two states to be shot and killed for sport outside of Yellowstone park. The season had been set to begin on Sept. 1.

U.S. law prohibits hunting altogether inside the park, and Montana had decided against a grizzly hunt, citing its concerns about long-term recovery of a bear population that is arguably one of the most celebrated and photographed in the world.

Native American tribes, which revere the grizzly as sacred, sought reinstatement of its threatened status as essential to protecting their religious practices.

Ranchers, who make up a powerful political constituency in Western states, have strongly advocated de-listing grizzlies, arguing the bears’ growing numbers pose a threat to humans and livestock. Agitation for state management of the bears also came from hunters, who highly prize them as trophy animals.

The judge said he discounted such factors.

“This case is not about the ethics of hunting and it is not about solving human- or livestock-grizzly conflicts as a practical or philosophical matter,” he wrote. Instead, it turned strictly on his determination that the Fish and Wildlife Service had exceeded its authority.

The agency said it stood by its de-listing action, adding the was reviewing the ruling and “considering next steps.”

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, a staunch critic of the Endangered Species Act, said he was “disappointed” by Monday’s decision, citing $50 million he said his state had spent on grizzly management over the past 15 years.

(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Yellowstone Supervolcano Has Massive Magna Reserve

A team of scientists have made a shocking discovery regarding the supervolcano beneath Yellowstone National Park.

The magma reserve under the volcano are significantly larger than previously recorded.

Researchers from the University of Utah report in the journal Science that the magma under Yellowstone could fill the Grand Canyon almost 14 times.  Most of the magma is in a newly discovered reservoir under the previously discovered reservoir.

“For the first time, we have imaged the continuous volcanic plumbing system under Yellowstone,”says first author Hsin-Hua Huang, also a postdoctoral researcher in geology and geophysics. “That includes the upper crustal magma chamber we have seen previously plus a lower crustal magma reservoir that has never been imaged before and that connects the upper chamber to the Yellowstone hotspot plume below.”

The newly discovered reservoir feeds the magma chamber that heats the geysers and other attractions at Yellowstone.  The scientists found that the chambers are made of mostly solid rock with holes through them like a sponge allowing liquid magma to move.

The researchers were quick to point out that the discovery doesn’t mean that an eruption is any more imminent; just that they have a better understanding of the system that would lead to an eruption at some point in the future.

“The actual hazard is the same, but now we have a much better understanding of the complete crustal magma system,” said researcher Robert B. Smith.

The researchers say that the odds of an eruption each year is 1 in 700,000, the same odds as a person being struck by lightning.

Yellowstone Volcano More Active In October

The Yellowstone volcano rumbled a little more in October than September.

Seismologists with the U.S. Geological Survey say there were a total of 98 earthquakes measured in October, 21 more than in September.  However, the scientists said the magnitude of the quakes was lower than the highest ones in the previous month.

The volcano’s alert level remains at “normal.”

The data used by the USGS comes from the University of Utah’s seismograph stations located throughout Yellowstone National Park.

The latest report says that ground deformation in the area is continuing on the same steady path of 5 centimeters per year.

Supervolcano Melting Roads At Yellowstone National Park

The massive supervolcano under Yellowstone National Park is melting roads throughout the national park.

The National Park Service is banning visitors from entering some parts of the park because the roads and the ground has become too dangerous for human passage.

“It basically turned the asphalt into soup. It turned the gravel road into oatmeal,” Yellowstone spokesman Dan Hottle said.

Park officials are telling visitors not to hike into the area because what appears to be solid ground could actually be dirt on top of boiling hot water.  They characterized the risk of stepping into potentially fatal pools of water as “high.”

“There are plenty of other great places to see thermal features in the park,” park spokesman Al Nash told The Weather Channel. “I wouldn’t risk personal injury to see these during this temporary closure.”

Scientists last year determined the supervolcano under Yellowstone was twice the size as previously believed by researchers.

John Shorey Brings A Master Class on Revelation

Yesterday on Grace Street, John Shorey presented a master class on the book of Revelation that brought truth and wisdom beyond what many people find in classes at a Bible College.

The talk on unraveling the mystery of Revelation focused on the Scriptures in the Bible that clearly show us when the rapture is going to happen and the ways that God’s people are going to be impacted before the return of Christ.

Six things need to happen before the rapture according to Shorey’s teachings.  The first will actually come from a major event, the collapse of the world economy.  That will lead to what is shown in Revelation 13:1:  a one-world government is formed.

Shorey also outlined a series of parallels between Matthew 24 and Revelation 6, where God showed Matthew the things that he would reveal decades later to John.  However, Matthew didn’t understand the significance of what he was seeing at the time.

However, Shorey wasn’t done amazing those in attendance with the way the Word is outlining the way the end times are going to arrive.

He shared about the scriptures and how many of the descriptions of the mountains shaking down and the sky rolling up like a scroll parallels real life volcanoes.

“When Mount St. Helens erupted,” Shorey said, “there were great black clouds of smoke and ash that rushed through the sky at 200 miles per hour.  Witnesses said they looked just like a rolling scroll.”

He said that the volcano below Yellowstone is being saved for after the sixth sign of the return of the King.

The only negative that people in attendance had to say was that time ran out and John Shorey had to stop with his incredible teaching!

Yellowstone National Park Hit By Earthquake

A 4.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Yellowstone National Park Sunday morning, the strongest quake to strike the park since 1980.

University of Utah seismographic stations recorded the quake at 6:34 a.m. Sunday morning about 4 miles north-northeast of the Norris Geyser Basin.

The quake was far enough from residential areas to not cause significant damage but border towns in Montana about 20 miles from the epicenter reported significant shaking.  Park rangers say that the park is very sparsely populated during this time of the year.

The USGS reported at least four aftershocks between magnitude 3.1 and 3.3.

Scientists have been watching the caldera of the Yellowstone Super Volcano closely as it has been rising since 2004, however, they said the recent quake is not the sign of an imminent eruption.

The quake comes less than two weeks after residents and reporters began to notice large migrations of bison and other animals away from the park.  One video posted on YouTube March 20th showed a herd of bison running down a highway as if a predator was chasing them.

Super Volcano Under Yellowstone Significantly Larger Than Believed

The volcano under Yellowstone National Park, which scientists in April said was larger than previously believed, has now been found to exceed even the earlier expectations.

A sound wave study of the magna chamber under the park has found that it measures 55 miles by 20 miles and contains over 140 cubic miles of molten rock. The team from the University of Utah called their discovery “astounding.”

They also said if the volcano were to erupt it would wipe out America and would devastate life in the rest of the world.

The scientists say the volcano erupts every 700,000 years and that the last time the volcano roared was about 650,000 years ago.

In addition, about twenty smaller super volcanoes have been discovered nearby on the Utah/Nevada border.