Grizzly Hunt Approved

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission heard from Grizzly hunt supporters and opponents before voting unanimously in favor of a Grizzly hunt on Wednesday.  Supporters say Wyoming’s grizzly population can easily sustain limited hunting, but hunt opponents question that claim.  Idaho has approved hunting one grizzly this fall. Montana has decided for now that it will not allow grizzly bear hunting.

Largest Grizzly Hunt Since 1970’s

The hunt’s rules will allow up to 22 grizzlies to be killed in area east and south of Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.  This hunt would be the largest scale Grizzly hunt since the 1970’s.  The ruling comes after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed protections on grizzlies last year — removing Yellowstone grizzly bears from the federal Endangered Species list after 42 years on it.

Bears Once in Decline

The grizzly bear once roamed the Rocky Mountains to the Prairies of the Midwest.  As the Lewis & Clark Expedition moved West in the early part of the 1800’s their grizzly bear encounters began in the Dakotas.  Here is what Clark had to say on Sunday, May 5, 1805, “In the evening we saw a Brown or Grisley beare on a sand beech, I went out with one man Geo Drewyer & Killed the bear, which was verry large and a turrible looking animal, which we found verry hard to kill we Shot ten Balls into him before we killed him…”  Unregulated killing and grizzly hunting continued through the 1970’s.  In 1975 the Grizzly bear became federally protected as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in the lower 48 because altogether, grizzly bears were eliminated from 98% of their original range in the contiguous United States.

In this map you can see where the bears historically were compared to where they are now. Map courtesy of Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.

This map shows where Grizzly bears historically were compared to where they are now. Map courtesy of Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.

Conservation Victory

The recovery of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bears is a historic success for wildlife conservation.  In 1975 there were so few bears that they were federally protected under the Endangered Species Act.  Now the grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem have been considered recovered and removed from federal protection and individual states have been given management authority.  Hunting will be a management tool available to the states again and it will be the states job to ensure a healthy population of bears into the future.

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