Less than a year after grizzly bears were removed from the Endangered Species Act by the Trump administration, it now gives states the opportunity to open up hunting season on the animals. And Wyoming officials are capitalizing on the opportunity with a recently issued proposal to legally hunt the species after four decades of protection.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department drafted a new regulation that allows the “killing of up to 24 grizzly bears – that’s 12 bears (10 males, two females) within the demographic monitoring area in Greater Yellowstone, plus another 12 bears of any sex outside the area,” EcoWatch reported.
“This draft was shaped by public input we received this fall and winter and the best available science,” Brian Nesvik, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s chief game warden and chief of the wildlife division, said. “It contains proposed regulations that would ensure Wyoming will meet its commitment to manage for a healthy and viable population of grizzly bears inside the demographic monitoring area in northwest Wyoming.”
But environmental groups argue against the proposal saying that “grizzly bears remain endangered in Yellowstone and across the west.” The bears populate only “4 percent of their historic U.S. range” and are still endangered because of the decline in Yellowstone’s ecosystem, “isolation from other grizzly populations,” and various human behaviors, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
“Grizzly bears are one of the slowest animals to reproduce; it takes a female grizzly ten years to replace herself in the population,” Bonnie Rice from Sierra Club’s Greater Yellowstone campaign, said. “It’s a pipe dream to believe that hunters are going to be able to distinguish between male and female grizzly bears. We will undoubtedly lose more female grizzlies in a hunt – even more than authorized under this proposal.”
As early as the 1800s, the grizzly bear population between the Pacific Ocean and the Great Plains was at 50,000. The population declined throughout the years leaving just 136 bears in 1975, EcoWatch reported, and listed under the Endangered Species Act.
Today, there are more than 700 grizzly bears populating the demographic area. Yet, many environmental groups feel the bears need further protection and conservation.
“Wyoming should focus on continued recovery of grizzly bears, preventing conflicts and promoting coexistence and safety for bears and people. This misguided proposal will set back forty years of grizzly recovery efforts.”
The proposal is currently open to public comment.
“We believe this proposal reflects the public support for using hunting as a component of grizzly bear management and has many provisions that will recognize this opportunity and keep the grizzly bear population recovered for generations to come.”