The Wyoming Senate on Thursday signed off on legislative language that would allow wildlife managers to relocate conflict-prone grizzly bears to the state of California.
Partly in jest — or not — the California relocation stipulation was tacked onto a bill that calls for grizzly hunting, regardless of the species' protected “threatened” status under the Endangered Species Act. Sen. Larry Hicks, R-Albany/Carbon/Sweetwater, authored the amendment, explaining its purpose just before the Senate passed the bill’s second reading.
“When a bear is repeat offender ... oftentimes those grizzly bears are euthanized,” Hicks said on the senate floor. “What this amendment would do is allow the Game and Fish Department to relocate these bears to the state of California, if it was determined to be in the best interest of the state of Wyoming.”
Hicks said he selected California because the image of a grizzly bear graces the Golden State’s flag.
“I think it’s only fitting and right that we help our friends out to the West to help restore their state emblem,” Hicks said. “This is the first step in getting there.”
Sen. Wyatt Agar, R-Big Horn/Fremont/Park/Washakie, said he thought the amendment was “friendly.”
Grizzly reintroduction has been seriously considered before to large tracts of remote wild lands like Central Idaho’s Bitterroot Ecosystem, but it’s unlikely to occur anytime soon in the nation’s most populated state.
Despite the joking tone of the bill and banter on the Senate floor, the amendment authorizing the translocation of problem grizzlies to California is now actually included in a bill that’s still alive in Wyoming's 2019 legislative session.