GYC, NPCA file suit to protect Grand Teton wildlife

We sent out this joint release with NPCA this week.

The Greater Yellowstone Coalition and National Parks Conservation Association filed a lawsuit today over a decision by the National Park Service to turn over its authority to manage and protect wildlife on several parcels of land located within Grand Teton National Park.

The two groups are asking the court to require the National Park Service to reassert its authority over wildlife management on all lands within Grand Teton National Park, one of our nation’s premier parks.

“We are committed to ensuring Grand Teton National Park’s remarkable wildlife is managed consistently throughout the park and with the highest level of protection possible, which park visitors expect,” said Sharon Mader, Grand Teton Program Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. “For more than 65 years, the National Park Service rightfully and lawfully exercised authority to protect all park wildlife. It should continue to do so moving forward.”

Many inholdings, or lands not owned by the Park Service within Grand Teton, are near places that are enjoyed by the park’s 4.6 million annual visitors. A large number of visitors come to see the park’s wildlife. But under the Park Service’s decision, bison, moose, coyote, beaver, and elk that wander onto such inholdings could be shot and killed under Wyoming law. Since the Park Service’s decision, a number of Grand Teton’s iconic bison have been killed by private hunters under state law within the park’s boundary.

“We find ourselves taking the National Park Service to court to force the Park Service to maintain Park Service authority over Park Service resources,” said Caroline Byrd, Executive Director for Greater Yellowstone Coalition. “After trying for months to convince them to reassert their long held authority over park inholdings, we were left with no choice but to go to court.”

The Greater Yellowstone Coalition and National Parks Conservation Association argue that the Park Service’s decision to turn wildlife management on inholdings over to the state violates federal law. The Park Service, which has the legal authority to prohibit hunting anywhere within the boundary of the park, has the responsibility under its governing statutes to exercise that authority to protect the park’s wildlife.