Grizzly hunt is on

Grizzly bear hunting seasons proposed by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department on Friday would allow a maximum of 24 bears to be killed in the Yellowstone region in a 2-month season that starts mid-September.

The first Wyoming grizzly bear hunt in over four decades will target 24 animals if commissioners who oversee the state’s wildlife sign off on a proposal released Friday.

A topic of fierce controversy, the hunt is being devised in a way that state officials hope will limit the chance of the bold large carnivore being shot in public view, or killed adjacent to Grand Teton National Park. A no-hunting zone will abut the east boundary of the park, and throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem it will be illegal to kill a grizzly within a quarter-mile of a named highway, Wyoming Game and Fish Department Chief Warden Brian Nesvik said.

“The intention is to address public concern that was focused on there being hunting and wildlife viewing going on at the same time,” Nesvik said.

Half of the overall statewide quota — 10 male bears and two females — is being distributed among six hunt zones that fall within a 19,279-square-mile “demographic monitoring area” in the Yellowstone region’s core. Another 12 grizzlies of either sex will be targeted outside this area, in zone 7, which encompasses outskirts of the ecosystem where the federal government is not imposing limits on hunting.

The rules on hunting outlined in the draft regulations greatly differ inside and outside of the monitoring area.

To ensure that no more than two female bears are killed, a maximum of two hunters at a time will be allowed afield within the monitoring area.

“People will put in for a license, but we will only take the top two on the list,” Nesvik said. “They would essentially be able to choose any of those six hunt areas up until the time either the female mortality limit is reached, or the sub-quota for that particular area is reached.”

Hunters pursuing grizzlies in the monitoring area also must carry a Game and Fish-issued satellite device that sends text messages. When a bear is killed, they’ll be required to report its death and the sex immediately.

“Let’s just say that the first two hunters harvest male bears,” Nesvik said. “When they’re done, then we’ll send the next two guys or gals out the door. And we’ll keep doing that until either the season ends, the female mortality limit is reached or the total mortality of females and males is reached.”

Game and Fish will request, but not require, that hunters focus their attention on male bears, which can be tricky to distinguish from females. Those who draw licenses will be required to receive an in-person education on how to best discern between the sexes.

Outside of the monitoring area is a single hunting zone, dubbed area 7 in the regulations. In this area, the dozen hunters who draw a license will not be subject to the same two-at-a-time system. Carrying the state-issued texting device will also not be required outside the monitoring area. Baiting will also be permitted inside of the hunting area 7, but not in the six hunt zones in the demographic monitoring area.

“Outside the DMA,” Nesvik said, “we’ll issue licenses like we would an elk area.”

The legal season for grizzly bears will be Sept. 1 through Nov. 15, and the state has for now ruled out a springtime hunt, which exists for black bears. An application period for the lottery will go from July 2 to 16.

Jackson Hole contains two grizzly bear hunt zones. Area two, in the northern parts of the valley, allows for a maximum of one bear to be harvested. Area six, to the south, covers the Gros Ventre and Hoback river drainages, and permits two bears to be killed.

Hunting grizzly bears is possible because in 2017 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service relinquished management of the formerly “threatened” species, which has met recovery goals in the three-state Yellowstone region. The population was last estimated at 718 animals, a count that’s restricted to the demographic monitoring area.

Montana wildlife managers have already signaled they will not purse a hunt in 2018. Idaho officials have not yet announced their intentions.

One conservationist’s first-blush reaction to Wyoming’s plans for a grizzly hunt was disappointment. Andrea Santarsiere, a Center for Biological Diversity attorney based in Victor, Idaho, was surprised with the overall intensity of the harvest.

“It’s substantially higher than I thought they would propose, and I think it’s just disappointing,” Santarsiere said. “Montana just announced that they wouldn’t hunt grizzly bears, and it’s sad that Wyoming wouldn’t follow suit and wait a year to see how they do after delisting.”

Roger Hayden, conservation director for Wyoming Wildlife Advocates, also thought 24 grizzlies was too many, and his wish was for no hunting whatsoever. But he also spoke favorably about some parts of the draft regulations.

“If they insist on a hunt, I appreciate a buffer around the park,” Hayden said. “I think the satellite device is a good idea, and in the DMA it looks like they’re being fairly careful, which I appreciate.”

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission is scheduled to review the regulations at a special May 23 meeting in Lander.

In the meantime, the agency is inviting the public to weigh in on the draft regulations. Comments are due by April 30. There will also be eight public meetings around the state, including a 6 p.m. April 17 meeting at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson.

Editors note: This story has been updated to clarify that there are no male or female grizzly bear sub-quotas in hunt area 7. 

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

Mike has reported on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem's wildlife, wildlands and the agencies that manage them since 2012. A native Minnesotan, he arrived in the West to study environmental journalism at the University of Colorado.

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(38) comments

Barbara Walklate

The post saying thank goodness for the grizzly hunt and humans will be back on the top of the predator chain ! What utter rubbish ! If you don’t like living in the Grizzlies land then move ! Take your cattle to Texas and enjoy a grizzly free state ! But then again you would have to buy the land in Texas,you won’t be able to use public land !!

Mark Piaia

Thank God for the grizzly hunt! Humans in Wyoming are once again at the top of the food chain.

Kevin Bertagnolli

I have a good old country italian jerky recipe handed down. Send me six pounds of rump. Split 50/50.

Jay Westemeier

Wouldn't it be interesting if Wyoming opened a cattle hunting season on public land? Or an open shoot on site elk hunting season? That would fall right into the Wyoming G&F departmental revenue generating agenda, wouldn't it? It just amazes me that the "poor" ranchers and hunting outfitters of Wyoming can afford such a huge lobbying effort while continually griping about the few dollars they lose annually to predation.

Deidre Adams

Reading the article, reading through all the various comments - many showing facts I'd have to verify prior to making a comment on them. Wyoming has become a treasured place to visit and have vacation time these last 10 years for our family. The wildness and wildlife, of course the Parks, the friendliness of their locals all have contributed to our time spent - - but these constant rush to hunts of the wolves and grizzles whenever they are or might be delisted from protection? Its very disappointing. Very disappointing.

georgie song

Daryl Hunter, are you a wildlife tour guide??? You mentioned getting a $100 TIP from a tourist when you show them a Grizzlie. I have a friend who is a wildlife photographer in Yellowstone. I thinking of programs where we can help.foster your "tour" industry through people like you. I had this thought; if a tourist give you a TIP, for $100. we TIP MATCH $50???

georgie song

Daryl: It was from a newspaper article. I cannot remember the name of the newspaper. But it was when he WAS ARRESTED. I see this type of thinking like the same mindset when the "killer" knows HE WILL GET PUBLICITY and INSTANT FAME. That our newspapers...published NEGATIVE, lot more "drama"SHOCK. sells..

Chad guenter

Georgie song: He couldn't have said it when he was arrested, he appears to be unconscious at the time he was arrested. Look for yourself, rubber arms flung behind back as he is cuffed, and his head wavers and falls from 22-30 sec. mark.

georgie song

The comment by Daryl Hunter regarding HUNTERS anxious to TARGET the bear "branded" 399 to kill because she IS FAMOUS, reminds me of the comment the mass murderer at Parkland high school made after he shot 17 high school students. He said, " HE NOW HAS A LIFE" !!!. I take it Mr. Cruz means he HAS RECOGNITION and is NOW FAMOUS!!!!

Chad guenter

georgie song: Is this quote from the alleged shooter on video or audio?

steve campagnaro

Biologists looked for two years to find signs of a single Lynx and couldn't. So what is t he solution. Don't put them on the Endangered List. Makes sense doesn't it. Cant find any means there must be plenty of them. I don't trust the numbers these guys put out on animal counts. Until they can find a more scientific way of counting the bears they shouldn't be hunted for sport. Period.....

Pat Sides

Slaughter the animals and Poison the earth! Wyoming seems to have a knack - just throw in the horse torture by your back packers & condoned by judges - sick group

Lisa Wan

And that is exactly how the rest of the country views Wyoming. BARBARIC and out of date.
So disappointing.

William Huard

In Wyoming the legislature blocked any reporting to the general public about specific wolf mortality due to sport killing.

Maury Jones

Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team leader Frank van Manen said in November 2015, that there are conservatively 714 grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The model that federal bear managers use to gauge grizzly numbers, called a “Chao2” estimator, is biased low, van Manen said.
“We are underestimating probably by about 40 percent, according to these calculations,” van Manen told the audience.
Adjusting for the model’s underestimation, the grizzly population would have come in this year (2015) at around 1,000.
So we have a thousand grizzlies or more in an ecosystem that should have a maximum of about 600. Let the professionals manage them. To allow all the grizzlies to continue to proliferate is "hoarding" and simply not sustainable. The WyG&F is proposing killing 24 or fewer grizzlies out of a population of 1,000. That is VERY conservative and very a very cautious beginning to proper grizzly bear management.

Daryl Hunter

Hunting only outside the recovery area is a reasonable compromise. Plenty of them out there for your blood lust, oh that's right, you moved into grizzly country, then saw some in your yard. That would preserve the revenue bears for tourism.

Glenn Graham

The agency Manen works for has said many times there were 757 grizzly’s in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in 2014, falling to 717 in 2015, falling to 690 in 2016 – the official number, quoted on numerous occasions.

Repeatedly saying that this is the number, but then saying maybe its 40% higher isn’t very convincing. Maybe it is to you? On top of that the number is falling, especially as the numbers being killed increase – more than 50 last year.

Who says the “right” number should be 600? There is one bear every 49 square miles. That’s too many? Says who? In all likelihood there were many more than that before they mostly got killed off the last time around, which necessitated the protections.

Killing 24 grizzlies on top of the 50 at least killed for various mostly human related reasons each year is not conservative or sustainable. The bears are endangered. “Proper management” is not allowing them to be killed because “that’s what Wyoming does to wildlife”. The “professionals” at WGF are doing what Mead and the hunters, the ranchers and the mineral extraction industries want. Why would anyone who doesnt profit from this support it? Killing isnt management, however many times you say it.

James Waxe

I appreciate your passion, but there are professional biologists out there to inform managers on such matters...

Glenn Graham

And then there are the agencies of government that have an agenda to delist and enable the hunters and mineral extraction companies.

Chad guenter

Thank you for reasoned comments on this issue, Mr. Jones. Those who are against this measure by WYG&F are driven by emotion, and irrational reactions are the result.

Daryl Hunter

Not all Chad, every time I show a tourist a grizzly my tip increases by $100. 00 or more, when I post grizzly pictures to social media people book me to show them bears. Everytime some random tourist posts photos of bears when the have no photo skills, their friend plan a trip to the Greater Yellowstone. Grizzly bears are income for many of us. what did James Carville say? It is the economy stupid. The economy is why I'm not against a hunt outside the PCA because ranchers are part of the economy also. Cattle ranching in Jackson Hole though is mostly a thing of the past.

Jason Harlow

It is a shame than an animal who just 150 years ago had a population that stretched east of the Mississippi has been reduced to one postage stamp size piece of real estate. It now has a total maximum population of just 700, yet that small number is considered "too many". Wildlife used to manage it's own numbers quite well across all species for perhaps millions of years, until man decided he could do better than nature has. One day this species may no longer exist with the multitude of challenges it faces, but by golly, Bob got his rug!

Derek Goldman

Sad that WGFD is being so aggressive right out of the gate. Well, this will probably be the first and last hunt in the GYE, as they will likely be exceeding the mortality levels they agreed to in the Conservation Strategy.

Hippy Recker

Hunting is a necessary part of all eco-systems!? I would think any person that has even a high school education would understand that! The Griz have been protected for over 40 years and their numbers have outgrown the greater Yellowstone/Teton national parks! Controls must be enforced! If not the Griz will eat your little sweet dogs and kitty's. We as humans are simply upright animals/predators. Some of us like to hunt other's don't! Why denigrate the work and effort of the Wyoming Game and Fish! If the Griz disappear the WGF will lose their livlihoods and a national treasure they would never allow that to happen! The Griz and all animals in nature die from counless random events and predation! 399 could be killed by a male Griz tomorrow or a pack of those foriegn Canadian wolves could kill her tomorrow! That's nature! We are part of nature! Let us harvest!

Daryl Hunter

Great news for the Idaho Falls trophy hunter I met that was anxious to target grizzly 399 because she was a better trophy because she is famous.

I am really disappointed that Wyoming Game and Fish gave the Jackson Hole tourism industry the middle finger by not putting the Teton Wilderness off limits to hunting. There is no longer any grazing there and no cows be eaten by the bears. 399 will be weaning her cubs this spring and will be distinguishable from the male bears. Her harvest will make will be celebrated by many who laugh at those who would rather see her improving the wild with a new batch of cubs. Oh, I'm not against a hunt outside of the 5.9 million acre grizzly recovery zone, I'm just against a hunt that will hurt Jackson Hole Tourism.

Maury Jones

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has done its homework. It has spent millions of dollars and millions of man-hours over the past 35 years documenting the population of Grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. They determined that the grizzly bear habitat is saturated with bears. It is time to manage them and not just count them. I support the wildlife professionals in their management plan.

Daryl Hunter

Maybe Maury they can move you to the front of the line for a 399 pelt for all the activism you have done to sabotage Jackson Hole Tourism.

Elaine Crumpley

Wyoming Game & Fish continues to outdo themselves in top predator behavior and allowing political agendas and pressure from powerful interest groups to guide their decisions. In Wyoming, once a species is delisted it quickly becomes a hunting commodity. First it was “limited” wolf hunts, then it quickly changed to a “go ahead and kill ALL the wolves anytime, anywhere” free-for-all. Now they’re promoting a “historical” grizzly bear hunt in the Yellowstone region, allowing 24 grizzlies to be killed this first hunt ... but not in plain view of the public, Gosh no! Can’t have those wildlife watchers witness the slaughter! It might not look good for Game & Fish, would it?
It’s a shameful and soul corrupting direction for Wyoming’s supposed guardians of wildlife and conservation. Wyoming Game & Fish used to be the best example of putting wildlife conservation first, now just look at where we are; a shameful example of wildlife exploitation.

Paula Garcia

Perfect response. I could not have said it better! I frequent this area not only to enjoy the beauty of this country but to enjoy the wildlife. But it looks like Wyoming is much more interested in what the powerful interest groups want than those that spend money to frequently visit this beautiful area. Wyoming fish and game will eventually allow the destruction of this ecosystem. Very sad.

Chad guenter

Great news!

Lisa Wan

This is INCREDIBLY disappointing. Montana chose not to move forward with a grizzly bear hunt because they acknowledge that they do not have enough information to decide if the grizzly bear is recovered enough to survive a hunt. Every time Wyoming takes one step into the future (or rather out of the dark ages) it seems to take two steps back into the dark ages. It is so sad that our state’s politicians only care what hunters, ranchers and the NRA want, and not the rest of us. It’s like the word COEXIST is missing from the dictionary in our state! How is that possible when our state’s greatest resources are our wild lands and our wildlife. A very sad day.

Jay Westemeier

My family's vacation dollars will be spent in Montana for the foreseeable future. The unspoiled "wildness" of the Glacier NP area is now more appealing than the commercialization and wilderness raping going on in northwest Wyoming.

Chad guenter

Cant say we'll miss your visit, Mr. Westemeier.[beam]

Daryl Hunter

Yes, you have made it clear Chad you don't care about Jackson's tourism economy.

Chad guenter

Mr. Hunter: The number of people like Mr. Westemeier who say they will boycott Wyoming over this is so insignificant that no one will notice. I would bet you this next year will be another record breaker for the GYE in regards to number of visiting tourists.

Jay Westemeier

You're probably right Guenter. My dollars are probably about as insignificant as the 24 dead grizzlies are to you. We already know how much you don't care about the wildlife and fellow citizens of Wyoming. That kind of inhospitable attitude is another reason why I'll be spending my money somewhere else.

Chad guenter

Mr. Westemeier: Save your drama for someone else. 24 grizzlies out 1000+/-....... You are right sir, that IS insignificant.

Jay Westemeier

I'd never try to "out drama" the drama QUEEN of Wyoming. The guy who gets off on spewing his hate on every predator article written in the JHNG just to get a reaction. If you believe 24 grizzlies are insignificant, why are you even commenting on this article? Keep on trolling Guenter.

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