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Groups Want Grizzly Hunt Canceled After New Deaths Found

Up to 10 male grizzly bears and one female grizzly could be hunted this fall in Wyoming. (Jim Peaco/Yellowstone National Park)
Up to 10 male grizzly bears and one female grizzly could be hunted this fall in Wyoming. (Jim Peaco/Yellowstone National Park)
July 18, 2018

HELENA, Mont. – Conservation groups are asking Wyoming officials to cancel this fall's grizzly bear trophy hunt after four newly reported bear deaths from 2017.

In a letter to the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, the groups say the deaths mean the state needs to readjust its hunting quota. Wyoming will allow up to 10 male bears to be killed, but the hunt will end after a female is killed. Because one of the recently discovered bear deaths was a female, the groups say the hunt should be called off.

"This is just another problem in the process, where you have these mortalities come to light that occurred the year before that weren't taken into account when they're divvying up how many bears can be killed in a hunt," said Bonnie Rice, senior representative for the Sierra Club of the Greater Yellowstone-Northern Rockies region.

The other grizzly deaths were two cubs and a bear whose sex has yet to be determined. The deaths occurred in the "demographic monitoring area," which stretches across Montana, Idaho and Wyoming and is home to about 700 grizzlies.

According to Wyoming Game and Fish, it took into account unreported deaths when determining its hunting quota. However, Rice said these particular deaths still have to be part of the state's calculations.

A grassroots campaign against the hunt attempted to subvert the hunting-license lottery process. Opponents, including environmentalist Jane Goodall, applied for licenses to keep them from going to people who intend to hunt. Rice said she sees it as another indication that the trophy hunt isn't popular with the public.

"That directly shows that there is a good segment of the public that does not want to see these bears killed just for a trophy on the wall," she said. "That's, of course, in addition to all the people that registered their opposition to the hunt and to removal of federal protections."

When the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began the transfer of grizzly bear management to Montana, Idaho and Wyoming last year, it received more than 650,000 comments, most of them in opposition to trophy hunting. Montana officials decided against allowing a grizzly bear hunt this year.

The letter to Wyoming Game and Fish officials is online at acrobat.com.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - MT