Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Wyoming Votes to Allow First Grizzly Bear Hunt in 40 Years

Animals
Wyoming Votes to Allow First Grizzly Bear Hunt in 40 Years
A grizzly bear at Montana Grizzly Encounter in Bozeman, MT, a rescue and educational sanctuary. jerseygal2009 / CC BY-ND 2.0

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to approve the largest grizzly bear hunt in the lower 48 states, despite opposition from environmental groups, tribal nations and wildlife photographers, The Washington Post reported.


The vote comes less than a month after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service affirmed its June 2017 decision to delist grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYE) from protections under the Endangered Species Act and pass management of the bears' population off to the states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. This will be the first grizzly bear hunt in Wyoming since 1974.

"Allowing a trophy hunt of these majestic animals—the second-slowest mammal to reproduce in North America—so soon after they lost Endangered Species protections does nothing to build public confidence in state management of grizzly bears," Sierra Club representative Bonnie Rice said in a statement reported by The Washington Post.

There is still a chance the hunt will not take place. A U.S. District Court judge will decide several lawsuits challenging the delisting of the GYE bears this summer.

If the bears remain delisted, the hunt will occur this fall and will allow hunters to kill one female or 10 male bears in a "demographic monitoring area" of prime habitat and an additional 12 male or female bears in a more "human dominated landscape," for a potential kill of 22 bears. Montana decided not to allow a bear hunt in February and Idaho has permitted a hunt of one male bear, also this fall.

More than 200 tribal nations opposed the hunt, saying the bears are sacred to their culture, and want to move the bears to tribal lands. One-hundred and seven wildlife photographers and 75 scientists also wrote letters condemning the hunt to Wyoming's Republican Governor Matt Mead.

"To be in the presence of a bear for the first time or the hundredth, is something to be savored for a lifetime. Allowing a bear hunt will change their numbers and their demeanor, making them skittish and much harder to see. It will take away that experience from countless people and Wyoming will lose a part of the wildness that is its hallmark," filmmaker and photographer Trip Jennings said in a statement about the photographers' letter.

"Yellowstone's bears are national treasures. Hunting them is like defacing the Statue of Liberty or filling in the Grand Canyon," Endangered Species Director at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) Noah Greenwald agreed in a press release. "Millions of people come to see these bears every year. It's so disturbing that Wyoming thinks they're more valuable dead than alive."

According to the CBD, 125,000 people sent comments opposing the hunt.

No hunting will be allowed in Yellowstone National Park itself, or in the nearby Grand Teton National Park or the road between them. A bear-favored region east of Grand Teton will also be off limits to hunters.

According to The Washington Post, federal biologists say the population has recovered enough to support a hunt, a view shared by Mead.

"The question is not whether you hunt grizzly bears or not," Mead told C-SPAN, according to The Washington Post. "The question is whether grizzly bears have grown enough in terms of population and in habitat that they can be a sustainable species. And clearly they have."

However, the scientists who opposed the hunt expressed concerns that it could prevent Yellowstone grizzlies from connecting to a still-protected population in northwest Montana. Further, they said that the population, which has rebounded in GYE from 136 when it was first classified as endangered in 1975 to around 700 today, is still vulnerable due to climate change, which is threatening food sources like white bark pine.

The CBD pointed out that the bears still occupy less than four percent of their historic U.S. range.

Defenders of Wildlife also issued a statement arguing that too many grizzly bears in the GYE already die due to human activity to justify a hunt. These deaths occur when bears are killed when they get into garbage or attack livestock, are run over by cars or trains or are poached illegally.

"This hunt will add unnecessary mortality to a population already experiencing high human-related grizzly bear deaths. [The Wyoming Game and Fish Department] should instead focus on minimizing human caused mortality through proactive conflict prevention, outreach and education while allowing the Yellowstone grizzly bear population to expand into historic habitat," Rockies & Plains director at Defenders of Wildlife Jonathan Proctor said in a statement.

A group of climate activists that have been cycling from the North of the country in stages to draw attention to the climate case are arriving to the Court of Justice on the day that the climate lawsuit against Shell starts in The Hague, on December 1st, 2020. Romy Arroyo Fernandez / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Julia Conley

Representing more than 17,000 claimants who support climate action, the international organization Friends of the Earth on Tuesday opened its case against fossil fuel giant Shell at The Hague by demanding that a judge order the corporation to significantly reduce its carbon emissions in the next decade.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Eat Just, Inc. announced that its cultured chicken has been approved for sale in Singapore as an ingredient in chicken bites. The company has developed other cultured chicken formats as well. Eat Just

As concern mounts over the environmental impacts of animal agriculture, Singapore has issued the world's first regulatory approval for lab-grown meat.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Wildfires are seen burning out of control on November 30, 2020 on Fraser Island, Australia. Queensland Fire and Emergency Services / Getty Images

The world's largest sand island has been on fire for the past six weeks due to a campfire, and Australia's firefighters have yet to prevent flames from destroying the fragile ecosystem.

Read More Show Less
A plane sprays pesticide over the Wynwood neighborhood in the hope of controlling and reducing the number of mosquitos, some of which may be capable of spreading the Zika virus on Aug. 6, 2016 in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

A national nonprofit revealed Tuesday that testing commissioned by the group as well as separate analysis conducted by Massachusetts officials show samples of an aerially sprayed pesticide used by the commonwealth and at least 25 other states to control mosquito-borne illnesses contain toxic substances that critics call "forever chemicals."

Read More Show Less
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern plants a tree as part of Trees That Count, a project to help New Zealand make a positive impact on climate change, on June 30, 2019 in Wellington, New Zealand. Hagen Hopkins / Getty Images

The government of New Zealand declared a climate emergency on Wednesday, a symbolic step recognizing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predictions of substantial global warming if emissions do not fall.

Read More Show Less