Grizzly Lives Matter truck

Ann Smith’s classic truck, often seen around town, echoes the longtime Jackson resident’s opposition to the grizzly bear hunt.

A coalition of Jackson Hole women is spearheading an online campaign to gobble up as many grizzly bear hunting tags as possible to keep them out of hunters’ hands.

A new instructive website, Facebook page, Instagram account and GoFundMe page that sprouted this week states a goal to “Shoot ‘em with a camera, not a gun.” The idea is to attract and educate nonhunters and get them to apply for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s planned fall grizzly hunt, and one of the organizers, Jackson resident Ann Smith, says it’s working.

“It’s a full-bore, grassroots effort, and we’re getting the most amazing response,” Smith said.

“We really are astounded at the number of people signing up,” she said. “It’s just thrilling.”

Nonhunters who are applying to a lottery that’s open between now and July 16 are taking advantage of a hunt that’s structured in a way that allows for disruption. In most of Wyoming’s grizzly habitat in the Yellowstone region’s interior, just one hunter will be allowed in the field for 10 days at a time in a season that starts Sept. 15. The restrictive rules are designed to prevent two female bears from being killed, which would exceed a cap imposed upon the Equality State’s wildlife managers.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department Large Carnivore Supervisor Dan Thompson couldn’t be reached Tuesday for this story, but he told the News&Guide in June that it’s legal for people to apply for the hunt with no intention of hunting.

“That’s their prerogative,” he said. “Honestly, like I’ve said throughout the course of this, I wish it could be viewed not as sabotaging the hunt but as contributing to grizzly bear conservation and management.”

At the same time, Thompson wasn’t jazzed about the grizzly conservationists’ efforts to secure hunting tags.

“It’s not something we’re condoning, people putting in just so they can take a tag from someone who is interested in the hunting opportunity,” he said. “But it’s going to happen. I know it’s going to happen.”

Locals reached by the News&Guide say it’s happening now.

Judy Hofflund, a seasonal valley resident for the last quarter century, said she put in for a tag partially motivated by viewings of the Grand Teton National Park grizzly that goes by the research number 399. The thought of a grizzly bear like 399 being killed by a hunter, she said, is “devastating.”

“I have already applied,” Hofflund said, “as has everybody in my family and everybody I can get my hands on.”

Last weekend Hofflund hosted a gathering at her house that resulted in the “Shoot’em with a camera” campaign. Jackson Hole attorney Deidre Bainbridge, one of the attendees, described the folks who showed up as a “consortium of women.”

“There are many women, probably 20 to 30, who are involved with this,” she said.

Bainbridge sees her application for a grizzly hunting tag not as an act of sabotage but as a way to take a seat at the wildlife management table.

“This gives me an opportunity to be a consumptive participant with Wyoming Game and Fish,” she said.

If selected, Bainbridge said she’ll “hunt” a grizzly bear over an elk hunter’s discarded gut pile to prove a point. Game and Fish is banning hunting grizzlies over placed bait in its six interior hunting units, though the pursuit will be legal over carcasses naturally on the landscape or hunter-discarded body parts.

“I think the regulation is defective,” Bainbridge said.

Some Jackson Hole men are also taking to the tag-grab tactic, including wildlife photographer and real estate agent Tim Mayo.

“It’s up to each one of us who care about the grizzly bear,” Mayo said, “to do what we can to save as many grizzlies as we can.”

Joe Kondelis, of the hunting-advocacy group Western Bear Foundation, was displeased with the tag-grab movement, knowing it hurts his already slim odds at drawing. But he viewed the tactic as legal, and one that couldn’t be prevented this season.

“It’s unfortunate that that’s happening,” Kondelis said. “They have a right to apply and not use it I guess, but it kind of goes against the idea of management by using hunting as a tool. They’re effectively taking away that tool.”

“But how do we stop them from doing it? There’s nothing built into the system that’s going to prevent them from doing it,” he said.

Application for Game and Fish’s grizzly bear hunting lottery in the state’s six interior hunt areas costs $5 for residents and $15 for nonresidents. If selected for the “issuance list,” the cost to procure a license rises to $600 for residents and $6,000 for nonresidents. Hunters — or nonhunters — must pay the heftier amount up front if they’re vying for a license in the less-restrictive peripheral hunt area 7, where 12 hunters will be allowed in the field at a time.

The GoFundMe portion of the “Shoot ‘em with a camera” was devised to underwrite these costs, Smith said.

“It’s for people who can’t afford the cost, should they be chosen,” Smith said. “We’re vetting those people to make sure they need assistance.”

As of Tuesday night, 72 people had donated $12,700 to the effort, a sum that’s enough to cover 21 grizzly hunting licenses issued to Wyoming residents, or two tags drawn by nonresidents.

Contact Mike Koshmrl at 732-7067, env@jhnewsandguide.com or @JHNGenviro.

(17) comments

TERRENCE MILAN

Jackson Hole is place for people with a lot of money and nothing better to do. The state should take advantage of this generosity and issue more tags. Grizzly bears have no natural preditors. This allows population to grow at an unhindered rate. This eventually leads to bears competing with bears for food or face starvation. The spread of disease is another factor and is much more lethal than hunters. The question is at what point do they compete to the point that it is self defeating to their population. Maybe there is no limit. With the growth in population in Jackson all they really need to do is wait for new condo buyers or the next weekend when all the juicey tourists arrive.

Glenn Graham

Please tell us more about the spread of disease in the bear population. I've not heard of that.

Deidre Bainbridge

According to Grizzly Bear Biologist Dr. David Mattson, IGBST 8 years and Yale Professor, the 2017 Grizzly Bear Human Caused Mortality Should Nix any Wyoming Hunt in the DMA ... He states, If conserving grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem were truly a priority, Wyoming would not allow hunting in the DMA, let alone the rest of the ecosystem, especially at a time when human-caused mortality has been skyrocketing as a result of a recent dramatic shift in grizzly bears diets towards eating more human-associated and conflict-inducing meat.

Wyoming’s management approach is especially important given that this state has the lion’s share of grizzly bears and grizzly bear habitat in the Yellowstone ecosystem, including lands outside the Demographic Monitoring Area (DMA). These extralimital habitats have become increasingly important as bears expand outward in search of foods to replace those lost to the twin malignancies of climate warming and invasive species. Bark beetles and blister rust have killed more than 50% of the ecosystem’s whitebark pine; invasive lake trout and deteriorating hydrologic conditions have eliminated over 90% of Yellowstone Lake’s cutthroat trout; and a combination of sport hunting, worsening forage conditions, and natural predation have driven a 70% decline in elk populations; all within just a few decades.

But instead of being protected, lands outside the DMA have been designated a de facto “Slaughter Zone” by Wyoming within which essentially unlimited killing is allowed—this on top of the explicit state goal of reducing the size of Wyoming’s portion of the population, even inside the DMA.
The verdict based upon facts and science: Wyoming's Trophy Hunt is about extirpation and not preservation of the Grizzly Bear. And Women demanding our constitutional rights are upheld, in this case the right for Wildlife Management, management of our treasured natural resources in the public trust are applauded.

TERRENCE MILAN

So this the view from Connecticut. A state where His Eminence more likely to find Sasquatch than a grizzly bear; or any sign of wild life for that matter. Seems like they should do a better job of protecting their children than worryng about bears in Wyoming.

Konrad Lau

I am glad these individuals are helping to fund the State Game and Wildlife Dept. This is probably THE best way for an individual citizen to insure their donations go directly to support wildlife management without subsidizing various Neo-Marxist political groups and propaganda organizations.
However, I am left with the question: Do these folks realize that if they succeed in blocking grizzlies being hunted and killed, the next population census will indicate even more bears should be removed from the environment due to overpopulation, nourishment resource depletion and interaction with human activity?
In the future, I would suggest they just write checks to the Wildlife Department to provide funding for excellent game management.
Like the fella said, “Facts don’t care about your feelings.”
If left to their own devices, the bears would decimate local game species bring cash into the system, thus allowing for more poaching and less money for wildlife management. African countries opposed to controlled wildlife harvesting found this out the hard way.
First, they made professional hunting illegal.
Secondly, the cash resources coming to the game departments dried up.
Third, there was no money to place wardens on the ground.
Fourth, poachers killed everything possible regardless of sex, maturity or species.
Lastly, wild populations of White Rhino and Elephant disappeared from those countries.
Is that what they really want, the disappearance of bears from the wild?

Ken Chison

You can talk until you are blue in the face Konrad. These people think that Grizzlies are just little teddy bears just like the ones they all take pictures of in Grand Teton. Sound science means nothing to them and they will have nothing to do with it. You are absolutely correct when you talk of the great things that Hunters have done for animals in Africa. Because of hunters and conservation many species now flourish where they were totally poached out of. this gives these people a warm and fuzzy feeling like they are really doing something great for mankind. Instead of volunteering at a local food bank or buying meals for underprivileged kids they would rather waste their money on this antic. The Bears will be killed regardless. Just like the Wolves The Game and Fish will give longer hunt seasons and will allow more hunters in the field at a time to combat this nonsense. Plus, these do-gooders could possibly be responsible for many of the iconic Grand Teton bears being harvested. Hunters will only take harassment for so long and then they will start returning the harassment. many of the Bears that Hunters went even think of harvesting might now be fair game because of these dumb actions by these people.

William Huard

Hunters will only take so much, says the outfitter.
Wyoming is a thug state with no business managing anything.
Everything they do is through the lens of oil and gas, cattle, and trophy hunter interests.
They ignore science to push their anti predator hatred!
Just like wolves, how long before the ranchers in the state legislature block public disclosure of grizzly hunting in Wyoming.
Anadarko, trophy hunter shill Matthew Hogan in the USFWS, and a backward state with questionable morality and values is all you need for a “science based” grizzly hunting season.

Brice Hemming

So are these women going to pay for the damage the bears cost. You know instead of being drama queens actually grow up and be an adult. Pay for all the medical bills of everyone attacked. Pay for all the wrongful deaths to people who die. Pay for all the cattle they kill. But we all know these soccer moms can't understand the real world!

Brice Hemming

Women what a surprise.

Jay Westemeier

Brice Hemming, what a surprise.

Ed Loosli

Before this proposed grizzly bear hunt goes forward in Wyoming, let's hope that the legal eagles who have sued the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for prematurely de-listing the grizzly bear are able to secure a "Stop Order" from the courts to keep this proposed hunt from going forward until the courts rule on whether the grizzly bear should once again be fully protected - or not.

Chad guenter

Great idea.... NOT. Letting city dwellers dressed in robes with no idea of proper wildlife management make decisions based on political leanings.

Cody Brinton

The bears are past management goals---- its time to manage them with hunting My Wyoming has east infection-- please pack your butt back where you came from

Jay Westemeier

Mr. Brinton's and Mr. Guenter's comments are the typical isolationist and inhospitable stuff that turns a lot of people away from Wyoming. Their belief that their state could survive without the tourist industry and Federal dollars is akin to believing this country would be better off without ICE. Everyone in this country, including city dwellers, have skin in this grizzly bear game. They both should have done their homework on Wyoming public lands and National Parks before they made their decisions to move there.

Chad guenter

Let's assume all the tags are drawn by non-hunter/protesters. The human-bear conflicts will continue to rise. Bear deaths will continue to rise and next year even more tags will be allocated in an attempt to control the bear numbers. This attempt to prevent hunting wont stop bear deaths caused by an unhealthy inflated griz population.

Glenn Graham

Killing bears at random (hunting) wont reduce the number of conflicts because they'll be different bears. Also, the bear population is not rising. Its been static since the early 2000's. There's no justification to hunt the bears.

dave johnson

I totally agree with what you are saying. However I have to commend this group for putting their money where their mouth is. You and I both know that hunters are the main support system for game management. Photographers pay little or nothing for game management. I am both an avid hunter and wild life photographer. I have never been a trophy hunter, yet I understand why some people are. I totally support game management. It needs to be controlled by statistics, not emotions. Monies are needed to support the research and statistics. If they are willing to pay, that's ok with me. Come to florida we have plenty of alligators to hunt....

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