By Associated Press - Thursday, December 31, 2020

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. (AP) - A federal appeals court has upheld a ruling that allows some hunting on privately owned land within Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

The decision Wednesday by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirms the state’s authority over wildlife on the 1% of land that belongs to private owners or the state within the 484-square-mile (1,254-square-kilometer) park, the Jackson Hole News and Guide reported.

Several conservation groups had sued over the issue. The appeals court ruled against them as it upheld a 2018 U.S. District Court ruling.

The dispute began in 2014, when a wolf was shot and killed on private land in the park. Rangers initially sought to prosecute, but the National Park Service delayed it as it began a review about government jurisdiction over such land in Grand Teton.

The park service later ceded authority over wildlife on private land in the park to Wyoming. As a result, the person who shot the wolf was not prosecuted under a state statute that allows people to kill wolves in defense of livestock and property.



The management decision also allowed state-sanctioned hunting for bison, black bear, waterfowl and other game. Previously, only elk hunting had been permitted in Grand Teton.

Tim Preso, a lawyer for Earthjustice, which represented Wyoming Wildlife Advocates and the Defenders of Wildlife in the lawsuit, said he would keep fighting to protect wildlife in the park.

“We are disappointed in this ruling and continue to believe that wildlife should be protected, not hunted or trapped, within the boundaries of Grand Teton, one of our nation’s flagship national parks,” Preso said in a statement.

The National Parks Conservation Association and Greater Yellowstone Coalition were the two other plaintiffs in the case.

Gov. Mark Gordon said he was “most gratified” with the court’s decision.

“This is a critical underpinning for wildlife management in this part of Wyoming, and gives due recognition to joint management and the strong relationship we have with Grand Teton National Park, which has always been important to Wyoming,” Gordon said in a statement.

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