Hunters argue killing grizzlies will teach them to avoid humans… HOW FKING STUPID ARE THESE PEOPLE?

Dead bears don’t learn anything. THEY ARE DEAD.

Rug Hunting in Grizzly Country

For the first time in more than 40 years, Wyoming will allow hunters to shoot the big bears. It’s a bad idea.

By Ted Kerasote Mr. Kerasote has written about nature and wildlife since the 1970s. Aug. 18, 2018

A grizzly bear roams near Beaver Lake in Yellowstone National Park, Wyo.Credit Jim Urquhart/Associated Press


They’ve passed within a hundred feet of my living-room windows. I’ve seen them while riding my bicycle and on foot and from my car. I’ve seen them in the high green grass of spring and the swirling snows of December. Tagged by biologists as bears 399 and 610, these two grizzly bears, mother and daughter, make their home in Grand Teton National Park, where they have produced 17 offspring over the last two decades while delighting and astonishing tourists, photographers and biologists alike.

But they could soon find themselves in the cross hairs of a trophy hunter’s high-powered rifle. And then, perhaps, as a rug or wall hanging.

For the first time since grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem were placed under the protection of the Endangered Species Act in 1975, my home state of Wyoming will allow them to be hunted this fall, unless a federal court judge intervenes at a hearing scheduled for Aug. 30.

The hunt was urged on by local politicians, the livestock industry, hunting guides and trophy hunters, and it comes just a year after the United States Fish and Wildlife Service “delisted” the bear, removing its protected status and turning over its management to the three states in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem — Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. The agency did so after concluding that the population of the 700 or so grizzlies living in the area — up from about 135 in the mid-1970s — is sufficiently large enough for hunting to resume.

Up to 22 bears could be killed, including 399 and her offspring, if they wander outside Grand Teton National Park and the narrow, no-hunting zone that Wyoming’s Game and Fish Department has created on the park’s eastern and northern boundaries to afford some added protection for these beloved bears. More than 7,000 people — some of them pledging to save a bear’s life by hunting only with a camera — entered a lottery for a hunting tag, priced at $600 for state residents and $6,000 for nonresidents.

Opponents of the hunt — Native American tribes and conservation groups — argue that the bears are not sufficiently recovered and that they face threats to their food supply, as well as from vehicle collisions, poaching, and human encroachment into their habitat. They also contend that the federal government failed to follow its own guidelines when it delisted the bear. They are not alone. Hundreds of thousands of people filed comments with the Fish and Wildlife Service opposing the decision.

A mother grizzly and her two cubs in a field at Yellowstone last month.Credit Jim Urquhart/Reuters

What hasn’t been as widely discussed is the shaky reasoning behind managing grizzly bears like other wildlife rather than by what might be called hunting’s law of proportionality.

I say this as a longtime hunter, someone who prefers to eat local wild elk, grown by nature without pesticides and hormones, and with an estimated carbon footprint of their meat at least 50 times lower than that of beef. And although killing individual elk, deer, ducks and pheasants, has never been easy for me, I have not been troubled by what hunting does to manage their populations, which are substantial, unlike the grizzly’s.

There are about 30 million deer in the lower 48 states, 47 million ducks, a million elk, and 15 million pheasants, and they produce offspring annually and from a young age. Compare that with a female grizzly, who doesn’t have cubs until she’s between 3 and 8, and may keep her cubs for up to three years. It’s no surprise that more than 40 years after grizzlies were protected in the lower 48, there are still only about 1,800 of them roaming the West.

Of course, the notion of “protection” needs to be put in context: nearly five dozen grizzlies died here last year: in vehicle collisions and unexpected encounters with humans, as well as from natural causes and intentional shootings for property damage, aggressive behavior or attacks on livestock. (Bear 610 may have become a casualty. There have been no confirmed sightings of her this year.) Despite these sobering statistics, and numerous independent biologists expressing concern over the future of the grizzly bear, Wyoming is planning to move ahead with the hunt.

“I trust the scientific experts at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to manage bears in a way that ensures they never require federal protection again,” Wyoming’s governor, Matt Mead, said earlier this summer.

But this hunt is neither about managing a wildlife population that has exceeded the carrying capacity of its habitat, nor about putting healthy food on the table. Instead, this hunt is about what the great conservationist and thoughtful hunter Aldo Leopold, called a “certificate” — a trophy proving that its owner has “been somewhere and done something.”

In the case of killing a grizzly, it means you’ve done something that has been considered difficult and dangerous. And it was, when you were hunting with a spear. But anyone who has shot a high-powered rifle knows that knocking off a grizzly bear is no more than an exercise in marksmanship, like shooting an elk. The difference is, you eat the elk.

Grizzly bears are not hunted for their meat. Wyoming’s hunting regulations make this clear. If you shoot what’s called a “big game animal” in Wyoming, like an elk, a deer or an antelope, you’re legally bound to bring all the edible portions of the animal out of the field. But if you shoot what’s called “a trophy animal,” like a mountain lion, a black bear and, now, a grizzly, all you have to bring out is its skull and pelt.

Some wildlife managers argue that we should nonetheless hunt grizzlies to keep them wary of people and reduce human-bear conflicts, an argument that sounds similar to saying that police should randomly kill teenagers to reduce school shootings. No one discounts the potential danger that grizzlies pose, and the wise hiker ventures into bear country armed with pepper spray. But why not remove these infrequent problem bears on a case-by-case basis rather than using hunting as a blind form of wildlife management?

Unfortunately, these arguments often fall on deaf ears in Wyoming, where some otherwise-smart politicians continue to claim, at least in private, that we should hunt grizzly bears because “here in Wyoming, it’s our culture to shoot animals.” We can only hope that the federal judge hearing the challenge to the delisting, Judge Dana Christensen, makes a stab at changing that culture, before 20 or so scarce grizzlies, including perhaps 399 and 610, are made into rugs.

Ted Kerasote is a writer and the author, most recently, of “Pukka’s Promise: The Quest for Longer-Lived Dogs.”