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Groups Criticize Move to Set Wyo. Grizzly Hunt

One group estimates 56 Yellowstone grizzlies died in 2017, the vast majority killed by people.  (Skeeze/Pixabay)
One group estimates 56 Yellowstone grizzlies died in 2017, the vast majority killed by people. (Skeeze/Pixabay)
January 26, 2018

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Conservation groups are speaking out against a proposed grizzly bear hunt already set for Wyoming this fall.

The hunt is scheduled to take place in areas outside of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

Recently, the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission directed its staff to plan the first grizzly hunt in many years, a move made possible when the US Fish and Wildlife Service took the Yellowstone grizzlies off the federal endangered species list last year. Now, their management is up to the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

Bonnie Rice is the senior representative for the Sierra Club's "Our Wild America" campaign and for the Greater Yellowstone region. She says the state is making a hasty decision.

"I think it sends a really bad signal that, pretty much the minute the federal protections are removed, this state is rushing to have a grizzly bear hunt," says Rice.

The Sierra Club is part of an ongoing lawsuit challenging the delisting action. The state argues that only a few bears will be shot, and has indicated it plans to sell hunting licenses for $600 apiece to instate hunters and $6,000 dollars to those coming from out of state.

Rice notes that the money made from the hunt pales in comparison to the state's $5.6 billion outdoor recreation economy.

"There's so much more money that is generated by people coming to Wyoming, and the other states in Greater Yellowstone, for the chance to see a live grizzly bear in the wild,” she says. “And I think this is going to backfire. It's going to be a black eye for Wyoming.”

Last fall, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team estimated the total population at 718 bears, and said it tracked 56 bear deaths last year, primarily at the hands of humans, even without a state-sanctioned hunt.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - WY