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Stop Wyoming's Grizzly Bear Hunt

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 We ask that you intervene on behalf of Yellowstone’s imperiled grizzly bears as their survival is being jeopardized by thoughtless game managers from the states of Wyoming and Idaho, and possibly Montana in the near future. Trophy hunts organized by Wyoming and Idaho have put the declining species in an even more perilous position than before and stopping these hunts by restoring Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the bears would be the right thing to do to ensure the long-term survival of this unique bear population.

Yellowstone grizzlies have recovered from near extinction. However, Wyoming’s own Game and Fish Chief Warden, Brian Nesvik sees a potential hunt as “part of the success story” of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s grizzly population. The recovering of grizzly populations is a result of protections. 

Without those protections and a policy of peaceful coexistence, grizzlies could disappear again.

In the 1970's, hunters and trappers decimated grizzly bear populations across the US. Today grizzly bears face even more threats from climate, habitat loss, development, mining and an increase in deaths by automobiles. A hunt this time could mean they may never recover. Hunting has never helped grizzly bear populations recover in any part of North America, and despite their claim to be the “best conservationists” hunters have rarely helped grizzlies survive, both directly and indirectly (Raincoast Conservation Foundation). 

 How can we trust that any hunt will be conducted in a conservative manner when it would be lacking scientific merit?
We see the transparent interests at play in pursuing this hunt: ranchers, trophy hunters, and opportunistic mining companies and developers. We will not stand by as these self-serving interests greedily advance their personal agendas. A hunt would not only disturb the balance of nature, but it would have negative consequences for eco-tourism. With grizzly bears serving as the main draw, “government and independent economists have placed the combined value of nature-based tourism in Yellowstone and Grand Teton at close to one billion dollars annually. (NPS 2016 Report)

The wildlife managers also fail to put in the importance of whitebark pine to grizzly bears. During years of high production, as much as 50-80% of the grizzly’s diet is comprised of whitebark pine nuts (per a 1991 study by D.J. Mattson). While the bears can adapt to an absence of whitebark pine in years when production is low, the absence of the pine as food can increase encounters with humans. Whitebark pine stands in Yellowstone typically grow higher than 7000 feet, away from the majority of tourists that visit Yellowstone, and when pine production is good fewer bears come into conflict with humans because their main food source is growing on high, remote mountain slopes. When production is low, bears leave the high country to seek other food sources and come into conflict with humans more.

And when bears come into conflict with humans more, the bears always come up on the losing side. In 2017, 48 grizzly bears died due to human-related causes, part of an estimated 175 bears that have died from 2014-2017 due to conflicts with humans. As a result of this, the Yellowstone grizzly population is currently on the decline. Hunting the population will not help keep it under control; it will only hasten the population’s decline. (Louisa Wilcox, Missoulian) Bears are self-regulating animals that do not, despite hunters’ claims, need to be controlled through hunting. 

Clearly, the motivation for a Wyoming bear hunt is recreational, trophy hunting. It serves no biological or conservation purpose. 
We must commit to conserving wildlife and protect it for the benefit of all Americans and future generations. Unscientific hunts directly oppose conservation efforts.

On Thursday, March 22, 2018, Idaho’s Fish and Game Commission voted for a hunt that would allow for the glory killing of one male grizzly bear. This is a totally senseless and unjustified action on behalf of an agency that prides itself on conservation and touts the grizzly bears' recovery as a success.

When the Yellowstone grizzly bears lost their federal protections, the grizzly bears' future landed in the hands of three neighboring States, Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. Montana voted against a grizzly bear hunting season. Wyoming is moving forward with plans to slaughter 24 grizzly bears this fall and Idaho has set its sights on one male grizzly bear.

What good do they think killing one male bear would do? This will have no effect on the population, positive or negative, and will only serve to allow a hunter to put a hide on his wall for bragging rights.

Grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone area are challenged with ever-growing threats such as habitat loss, human-caused fatalities, loss of vital food sources, and now trophy hunting.

The fact is this hunt has nothing to do with necessity or science, but rather an agency catering to special interest groups and offering them an opportunity to "bag" their trophy grizzly.

If Idaho moves forward with a hunting season, it will be the first hunt since 1975, when grizzlies were listed as a federally protected species under the Endangered Species Act.

We respectfully recommend that you do the right thing and intervene on behalf of the bears by restoring ESA protections for the Yellowstone population before the beginning of the fall hunt in Idaho and Wyoming. The bears of Yellowstone are in enough peril already and allowing a trophy hunt will only hasten their decline and will do nothing to protect them. It would be of great service to Yellowstone’s ecosystem and the millions of people who delight in seeing these bears in their natural habitat to cancel this fall hunt and restore protections for the bears until we can be assured that human disturbance is having no negative effect on the bear population, and a more science-based assessment of the bears’ status is conducted by federal or state governments.

 

 

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NPS Report: https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/news/16021.htm

 



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