In early March, anti-hunters protested immediately when Wyoming Game and Fish Department announced plans to open grizzly hunting after over 40 years.
In 1975, the grizzly bear population of Greater Yellowstone’s Ecosystem was put on the endangered species list when numbers dwindled down to 136 bears. In June 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared the population had recovered enough to be taken off the list.
The anti-hunters fail to recognize the decades of research and management plans that led to the current draft for hunting regulations.
Wildlife officials closely monitor the only designated suitable grizzly habitat area in the state, estimating a population of over 700 grizzlies in 2017. The proposed hunting quota for that area is 12 bears, or only 1.7 percent of the total population.
The other remaining 12 permits are designated for bears that have moved into inhabitable, conflict-prone spaces such as cornfields or the open plains.
An education course, a satellite-communicated report from the field and a Game and Fish office check will all be required for each harvest. Public comment is now open and a final decision will be made in May.
The delisting of the grizzly in that area also affects Idaho and Montana since animal populations do not abide by state boundaries. While Idaho continues to consider a hunting season, Montana wildlife commissioners postponed the hunt indefinitely in February.
Sources: The Wildlife Society and Star Tribune (Wyoming)