MISSOULA, Montana - A judge has blocked the opening of the first grizzly bear hunts to be held in the Rocky Mountains in more than 40 years.
U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen's Thursday order comes as Idaho and Wyoming prepared to open the first grizzly bear hunting seasons in the Lower 48 states since 1974 on Saturday.
The ruling is a victory for wildlife advocates and Native American tribes that sued over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision in 2017 to lift protections for 700 grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park.
The plaintiffs had argued the bears still face threats to their survival. Federal wildlife officials say the bears are thriving.
Fewer than two dozen bears would be allowed to be killed in the hunts.