by Laura Lundquist, Chronicle Staff Writer
An appeals court has denied a temporary injunction to halt helicopter use in bison hazing operations.
On Monday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied a temporary injunction filed by the Alliance for Wild Rockies to stop helicopter hazing because of the threat posed to endangered grizzly bears.
AWR executive director Mike Garrity said it was likely because the Department of Livestock has said it finished using the helicopter for the year.
AWR filed a lawsuit in federal court to permanently stop helicopter hazing. But in March, U.S. District Judge Charles C. Lovell denied the restraining order.
AWR has appealed his ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Garrity said he’s been told the case is being moved up but has no court date yet.
The DOL used the helicopter to haze bison from areas north of West Yellowstone back into Yellowstone National Park. Bison must return to the park in the spring to avoid contact with cattle to prevent disease.
DOL spokesman Steve Merritt said helicopter operation costs around $700 an hour.
The U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service designated that no federal funds be spent on helicopter flights, so all funding comes from the livestock department’s animal health budget, Merritt said.