Jackson Hole, WY News

Hunting fanatic Zach Key didn’t drive two hours to the Jackson Town Square to pick a fight with protesters who were calling for the end of trophy hunting.

Key’s task, instead, was education. On the scene, amid a couple dozen protesters and a handful of fellow hunters, Key eagerly handed out a fact sheet titled, “Hunters/Conservationists.”

“I’ve got some facts about how much a hunter, through license sales every year, how much we contribute to wildlife management,” said Key, of Sublette County, from the antler arch on the southwest corner of the square. “We’re not asking for all the grizzlies and wolves and coyotes to be killed. We’re not bloodthirsty killers. There are bad apples in any groups. There are bad-apple hunters that put pictures online that make us look like savages and a bunch of ruthless killers. The point of us being here is to show that we’re not all of the same design.”

Although trophy hunting — or killing for sport, wall mounts or pelts — is a topic that’s quick to stir emotions, the banter on the square was largely respectful. Those who came to the Worldwide Rally Against Trophy Hunting gathering last weekend to condemn forms of hunting they perceive as inhumane mingled readily with a cluster of camouflaged men who clearly differed ideologically.

Kristin Combs, a Wyoming Wildlife Advocates employee who organized the event, said she thinks the public protest was the first of its kind in Wyoming, in that it advocated the prohibition of certain types of hunting. About 30 people wielded makeshift and professionally printed signs that featured slogans like “Trophy hunting is not conservation!” and “Not your trophy” next to a photo of a grizzly bear.

“I agree with the philosophy and mission completely,” wildlife biologist and retired filmmaker Franz Camenzind said. “Killing for fun, it’s just not right. I think it’s time we move on. It’s an evolutionary step, and evolution’s not fun, but it goes on.”

Camenzind, 75, said he does not anticipate wholesale changes to Wyoming’s hunting regulations in his lifetime, but that “if you don’t start, you won’t get there.”

Also gathered was wildlife photographer Tom Mangelsen, who was raised in Nebraska as a hunter but now condemns types of hunting he perceives as unethical and unneeded.

“I’m trying to put a stop to this nonsense of killing animals for fun,” Mangelsen said. “Shooting a deer or elk for meat, that’s fine. Shooting a black bear over bait or if it’s in its den, that’s not.”

The protest, Combs said, wasn’t an attack on all forms of hunting. Besides opposing bear baiting, her employer is trying to end coyote-killing derbies and trophy hunting of predators like wolves or grizzly bears.

Jackson Hole resident and wildlife activist Lisa Robertson mingled with hunters, trying to understand why some of them valued trophy hunting.

She went back and forth with Wyoming Game and Fish Commissioner and La Barge resident Mike Schmid, discussing issues like Wyoming’s planned and then judicially thrown-out grizzly bear hunt. Robertson took issue with how meat from hunter-killed wildlife that is categorized as “big game” by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has to be recovered from the field, but carcasses of “trophy game” species like mountain lions, wolves, black and grizzly bears can be left in the field to rot without penalty. Schmid’s take was that the 22 Wyoming grizzly bear carcasses that would have been left in the woods after being shot would not have gone to waste, but would have fed other bears, coyotes, magpies, ravens or bobcats.

“All the animals you guys are defending would have fed off those carcasses,” Schmid said.

Schmid tried to find a middle ground that could gain Robertson’s favor.

“What if we regulate that a trophy animal’s carcass has to come out of the woods, just like big game animals, but you are allowed to use it to feed your pets?” the commissioner asked.

Schmid said that he wished nonhunters and anglers would also chip in money to fund wildlife management in Wyoming, which comes mostly from license revenue.

“We’d like to see everybody buy a conservation tag,” Schmid said. “They’re $12.50.”

Robertson was ready for that one. She was a co-founder of the group “Shoot ’em with a camera,” and explained that she routinely buys licenses not to use them, but for the purpose of funding wildlife management.

“This is what I have,” Robertson told Schmid. “I have a conservation stamp, trapper’s license, two elk tags, two wolf tags, and I have two limited beaver quota permits. I’ve spent a lot of money.”

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

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(10) comments

Tony Rutherford

If your state hasn't amended it's constitution so that the rights to hunt and fish are protected, now is the time to urge your legislators to do so.

When a read a hunter making the argument that hunters pay for wildlife conservation it's obvious that person truly has considered all of the wildlife conservation revenue sources, or who the contributors are.

If the wildlife conservation financial contributions made by non-hunters were suddenly removed or reallocated, hunters, especially those who rely on access to federal land resources would find themselves with no place to hunt.

Pittman-Robertson taxes hunters and non-hunters at the same 11% rate, yet the proceeds almost entirely benefit hunters.

Americans, at a rate of about 80% support hunting.....but when that hunting involves trophies, large cats, bears, coyotes, wolves, animals that might be viewed in a zoo, baiting and hunting big game with hounds......that support pretty much does a 180.

Sounds like this was a positive gathering?

Tony Rutherford

Meant to write "it's obvious that person truly hasn't considered all of the wildlife conservation revenue sources"


Yeah right. I read the insipid sign and it changed my mind completely. Next innane rant please. I get a laugh.

Loren Nelson

The "protest" was a great experience. The many discussions between wildlife activists and hunters were cordial and respectful. Both sides find themselves closer together that most people reading the social media trash would think. It must be made clear the very few oppose the ethical hunter's search for a "trophy" bull elk that will feed the family for weeks. What is opposed is the thrill-seeker hunting a large predator solely for the fur or the hunter who pays to kill a threatened or endangered species in Africa. Ethical hunters who show respect for the environment and its wildlife are a core part of Wyoming and always will be. Let's hope that all sides take up meaningful conversations and work together to preserve the environment and the traditions we enjoy every day in the greater Teton region.

Chuck Christopher

Loren ? It seems like there is one group of people doing what they do and another group of people complaining about what the first group is doing. I hope you realize that not hunting is the "new man." This "new man" goes to the supermarket and buys everything. You are complaining about 1% of hunting.

Kevin Clark

Chuck, I’m certain it’s considerably more than 1% of hunters. Don’t forget the “trophy” hunters involved in killing contests. The needless killing of many species is commemorated with a “trophy” at the end of the contest. This topic is more vast than you acknowledge.

Chuck Christopher

Kevin you are probably right , it is less then 1%. Hunters want meat, a three year old cow isn't a trophy. Killing predators isn't trophy hunting, it is trying to save the deer and elk for the food resource that it is. Go to the market and buy your beef with all the cancer ridden chemicals they put in it. People who don't like hunting should move to where they don't hunt. Don't come to a hunting community and try and change it.

Kevin Clark

Expressed very well, Loren. That this movement is gaining momentum should come as no surprise. I’m seeing more and more hunters speak out about this. And the nonsense about a hunter-injured Grizzly Bear that dies and feeds other species....while true, it is a flimsy excuse that in no way bolsters trophy hunting.

Chuck Christopher

When an animal dies and feeds other animals ........that is called nature.

Noah Osnos

Sport killing is not what is called nature. Killing and dying are separate things.

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