The first Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear hunt in 44 years is on tap for this fall, following a historic Wyoming Game and Fish Commission decision last week.
After little discussion at a May 23 meeting in Lander, the appointed seven-person commission unanimously approved regulations allowing hunters to kill 10 grizzlies inside a core management area near Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and 12 bears in other parts of the state.
The season is set to begin this September. However, a flurry of lawsuits filed in federal court threaten to halt the hunt before bullets can legally fly.
Commissioners asked the wildlife managers they oversee some clarifying questions about the state’s plans, but did not take the time to discuss issues raised by the public about the grizzly hunt or share their personal views. Many of the roughly 60 people who showed up to the Lander meeting, including Jackson residents, shared their opinions on the hunt before the vote.
“If grizzly bear 399 steps over the line and ends up a head on some rich person’s wall, you know that will be another shot heard around the world. Please, vote today with all your hearts and acknowledge what is best for the wildland you so tirelessly care for.”
— Linda Olinger, retired French teacher from Riverton
“Every grizzly you kill in these trophy hunts kills economic opportunity for the tribes and also for Yellowstone and Grand Teton’s gateway communities.”
— Brandon Sazue, Global Indigenous Council
“We tend to use the ‘recovery’ term, but I think the analogy is the save-a-species term. Job well done. It’s been recovered for 15 years.”
— David Rael, Wyoming Game and Fish Commission member
“It’s taken 40 years to increase the grizzly bear population in the Yellowstone region by approximately 500 bears. This proposal will set grizzly bear recovery back by decades.”
— Bonnie Rice, Sierra Club’s Greater Yellowstone campaign
“I do support this plan and I do strongly support hunting, because without hunting as a management tool, management is meaningless.”
— Jim Allen, rancher and Wyoming state representative who chairs the House Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee
“In general, we urge Wyoming to take a prudent approach to wildlife management and not advance a grizzly bear hunt until these issues — flaws in the final delisting rule — are resolved.”
— Sharon Mader, Jackson Hole resident and National Parks Conservation Association staffer
“If we want them to be biologically and socially acceptable to the people of Wyoming, then we must manage them. I know the word ‘manage’ seems to have a dirty name, but that’s the way we will have to do it if we want to have those animals in this state.”
— Charles Price, Upper Green River area rancher and former Wyoming Game and Fish commissioner
“While we don’t feel that hunting and ecotourism are mutually exclusive, we didn’t want to put those two things in direct conflict with each other.”
— Dan Thompson, Wyoming Game and Fish Department large carnivore supervisor, explaining a no-hunting area abutting the east boundary of Grand Teton National Park
“I’d like to see a bigger buffer zone than a quarter-mile. This is a once-in-a-lifetime hunt. Let these people break a sweat and not just go 30 feet off a dirt road.”
— Leslie Patten, Sunlight Basin resident
“Today you’re being asked to make a historic decision. This decision will affect not only grizzly bears, but will also reflect on the great state of Wyoming in the eyes of the world.”
— Penny Maldonado, Jackson Hole resident and executive director of The Cougar Fund
“It’s a robust grizzly bear population. We live and work in this country. My personal observations are that they should have been delisted back in the 1990s, with a hunting season since then to take care of some of the depredation.”
— Karl Brauneis, Lander resident and U.S. Forest Service retiree
“I’ve been asked many times, ‘How can you be a hunter and be opposed to grizzly bear hunting?’ I’ll just say that grizzly bears are different. Grizzly bears aren’t whitetail deer. It’s taken over 40 years and $40 million to recover the species.”
— Chris Colligan, Jackson Hole resident and wildlife program coordinator for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition
“My heart sinks at the thought that you, the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, are on the brink of making a decision that may result in the needless killing of these remarkable, intelligent, inspiring animals. It sends a message. It tells the rest of the world that Wyoming is out of step with enlightened values of society.”
— Tom Mangelsen, Jackson Hole resident and wildlife photographer who owns Images of Nature Gallery