Grizzly Bear Growling
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By Matthew Brown, AP

Attorneys for the U.S. government and the state of Wyoming urged an appeals court Tuesday to throw out much of a judge’s ruling that blocked the first grizzly bear hunts in the Lower 48 states in almost three decades.

The case is before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. It involves more than 700 grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park that had their protections stripped away and then restored by a judge in Montana just as hunting was scheduled to begin.

U.S. Justice Department attorney Joan Pepin argued during a hearing held by video conference that Judge Dana Christensen wrongly concluded in his 2018 ruling that the bears’ long-term genetic health was in doubt.

Pepin also said the judge should not have required a review of grizzlies across their entire range before lifting protections for the Yellowstone region bears.

Attorneys for environmental groups and Native American tribes that consider grizzlies sacred say lifting protections in the Yellowstone region of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming could have ramifications for the entire species.

And while Yellowstone bears are not in immediate danger of losing genetic diversity, they say the animals need continued protections to preserve their hard-fought recovery from near-extinction last century, when the population dropped to only 136 animals.

“Not a single (scientific) paper has said they are OK in the long term,” said Matthew Bishop with the Western Environmental Law Center.

Outside the Yellowstone region, about 130 grizzlies roam areas of northern Idaho, northeastern Washington and southern British Columbia. The largest concentration of the animals in the Lower 48 is in northwest Montana around Glacier National Park, where an estimated 1,000 bears live.

Federal officials did not challenge other concerns raised by Christensen, including whether sufficient safeguards are in place to keep the bears from sliding toward extinction if states have authority to hold public hunts.

The Fish and Wildlife Service already is working on that issue, according to court documents. However, it has not wavered from the position that protections are no longer warranted.

“The greater Yellowstone grizzly bear no longer meets the definition of a threatened species,” Pepin said. “This is how the Endangered Species Act is supposed to work. The misperception that delisting is bad for species conservation is not the case.”

An attorney for Wyoming, Jay Jerde, said the appeals court should go much further than U.S. officials asked. Wyoming wants to reinstate the 2017 Fish and Wildlife Service decision that removed protections and allowed states to hold hunts.

Grizzly bears were listed as a threatened species in 1975. They have slowly regained territory and increased in numbers in the ensuing decades, but still occupy only a small portion of their historical range.

The 2018 hunts that had been scheduled in Idaho and Wyoming would have killed up to 23 bears. State officials maintained that many deaths was sustainable given the number and expansive range of the animals.

In his ruling that blocked hunting, Christensen said the struggle to return bears to other areas of the Northern Rockies was not given enough consideration when officials decided to lift protections for Yellowstone’s grizzlies.

An estimated 50,000 bears once roamed the contiguous U.S. Government-sponsored programs led to most being poisoned, shot and trapped by the 1930s.

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  1. I’ve never seen a wild grizzly. I wonder how much livestock is lost to them in the affected area? I like to see a proper balance struck between protecting people, stock and wildlife.

    I’m a hunter. But I would never hunt elephant, grizzly, or a select few others. Self defense, yes. Hunt, no.

    • Same. Deer? Elk? Bighorn? Something that will give meat I’ll actually eat? Yes.

      Bear? Cougar? Bobcat? No. If FGS wants to issue a few permits to keep the local populations in balance, I’m fine with it and have no quarrel with anyone who wants to submit their name to the lottery. But it’s not for me.

      • Haz. This is the first year CA has closed the bob cat season. 3.25 for a tag as opposed to 22+ for a pig. I always thought bob cats were being dissed at that rate.

        I’ve encountered several of the sneaky little devils on my wonderings. They are so quiet. Unless you have eyes on you’ll never know they were there.

        • Three dollars and twenty five cents for a bobcat tag to add to your hunting license and twenty two dollars for a tag for each pig you want to shoot. And pigs are an invasive species that are open year round.

        • Seems fair, aside from total enclosure of livestock, bobcats can’t be kept out and the pelts are anywhere from $50 to $100.

          No fee in Texas, only a tag if you transport it out of state or sell it.

    • You have to think game and species management also, not just let the “beautiful creatures” starve or die off from hunger, disease, etc. If the numbers support ETHICAL HUNTING to manage the species, there’s nothing wrong with that. If you personally choose not to hunt them, that’s your right and privilege, but it’s not about making those that do choose to LEGALLY and ETHICALLY hunt them per management regulations and the law come under fire.

  2. Hunters are one of the most generous of contributors to wildlife conservation efforts given millions of dollars collected annually in various forms of taxes, surcharges, license fees, permits, etc. I’m not an animal conservation specialist, so I can’t say whether opening a hunt for 23 bears is excessive or about right. However, for species like this that are coming back and not endangered, a wise move would target the license fees toward grizzly conservation efforts. It’s odd that some states do this for species like bighorn sheep, but exclude others. Read about the restricted elephant hunts in Africa and how much money they raise to help sustain the wild populations and fund rangers to stop poaching. Balance the system and you can make it work for everyone.

  3. Let me just say this about that. Animals such as the one pictured have nothing to fear from me. Just a photo scares me spitless.

  4. I’m in MT, and hunt quite a bit. The fact is that grizzly encounters are becoming more and more common, and every year more and more hunters are mauled. Two of my hunting buddies had a run-in last year with THREE grizzlies that moved in on an elk kill. Those guys are lucky to have gotten out unscathed. When I started hunting elk in the mountains 20+ years ago, we never worried about running into a grizzly. Now, we all carry bear spray and a heavy caliber revolver. A hunt season is the answer. These animals have no fear of man now- why would they? They are an apex predator, and they’ve never learned to fear man, because we’ve not hunted them for decades.

  5. I’m not sure how I feel about hunting grizzly. I don’t like the idea of killing most predators since they seem to be in short supply these days. If they aren’t killing too much livestock, I’d just as soon leave the predators alone.

    I make an exception for yotes. They seem to multiply like jackrabbits and the interbreed with domestic dogs and with wolves. They dine on livestock and family pets alike. We’ll never run out of them.

  6. I don’t want to hunt one but I’m fine with those who do.

    The decision on opening seasons and how many permits to issue has to come from the wildlife biologists, not the lawyers for the tree hugging crowd. Has to be a balance struck of how many the available range can support without either harming the species or causing trouble with people. Doesn’t sound to me like they are talking about massive numbers of permits.

  7. I like grizzlies and I’m glad that there are still places wild enough to hold them. I also don’t want them popping into my tent at night. Grizzly populations have recovered and they are a growing menace to hunters, ranchers and sheepherders in the region. When will people who have no experience with grizzlies allow the people who do to make the decisions? Typical big city leftists making decisions for the men and women with boots on the ground. 23 bears out of a population from well over 1000? That’s very sustainable. The only predator besides man that can give grizzlies a run for their money is a large pack of wolves. Those two apex predators hold each other in check. Man has dominion, bears and wolves should fear man so they don’t end up shot by fish and wildlife.

    • And even if they allow 23 animals to be harvested in a given season not all the tags will be filled. Hunting is not 100% successful. At least not in my experience.

  8. I’m not a hunter. But I totally support private hunting as a good and necessary thing for Animal Control at the very minimum. And certainly harvesting your own food of course yes. But apex predators (all gods creatures) need controlled management. For their health and ours.

    Sea lions need to be hunted. They are a problem on the east and west coasts. Elephants need to be hunted. Only the progressive socialists and Adolf Hitler, a vegetarian, are against hunting. Both love anamials and hate people.

  9. I’m not a hunter. But I totally support private hunting as a good and necessary thing for Animal Control at the very minimum. And certainly harvesting your own food of course yes. But apex predators (all gods creatures) need controlled management. For their health and ours.

    Sea lions need to be hunted. They are a problem on the east and west coasts. Elephants need to be hunted. Only the progressive socialists and Adolf Hitler, a vegetarian, are against hunting. Both love animals and hate people.

  10. I think grizzlies should be left alone. Bear meat and pelts suck anyways. No bear is a menace, we are a menace to them. I’m no vegetarian but some animals just need to be left alone. If the population increases, it was meant to. That’s evolution. The same evolution that we evolved from. Life will go on and the earth will spin with or without (insert animal here). If the bees died, it would just be evolution culling through humanity, etc etc.

    • Humans are indeed a menace to the planet. I do my best to not contribute to environmental problems, as well as pick up behind others when and where I can; this is the limit as to what I can do legally do at the moment. It’s completely anti-American and anti-liberty to demand other people change their lifestyle, even if its destructive. If its legal, and not infringing on other peoples rights, so be it.

      I’m still picking up trash that was dumped in the forests around 20-30 years ago. Oil containers, glass bottles, metal pales people used as deer feeders, bicycle frames. Some of the bottles are antiques now and I don’t mind holding onto them ^_^, find lots of neat stuff. I got several more land fills to clean up and a lot of work cut out for me, but I think it’s worth it because the family land will be in better condition for posterity.

      Human cities remind me of the rat utopia experiments, highly recommend watching the documentary it.

      • I dunno about anti-American, and nothing we do no matter how “environmentally safe” it is, will ever be non destructive. THat’s just life. One exists and another stops existing because of it’s presence. I just consider this controlling the population stuff on par with plastic pollution, so IMHO, it should change. People had to be told to stop hunting Buffalo and whales, so it’s really no different their either. We either over do it, or do nothing.

        I think it was Planet Earths newest series that covered somewhere over in EuroAsiaMiddleEast (lol, I cannot remember where it was) that has a problem with things like mountain lions and hyenas roaming the city at night. Pretty sure somewhere in India. So not much of a surprise there. If there is one example of overpopulation it’s there. And rats, diseases, trash, etc… that too.

        • I like Ron White’s take on over population. Develop a pill that makes sperm taste like chocolate. Problem solved.

        • Indeed. Obviously I can’t continue to live without something else dying to support me. I doubt I could care any less less about the CO2 religion; pollution, species extermination, and habitat destruction are my main gripes.

          Japan has to put inflatable coyotes and wolves in their crops in an attempt to keep the hordes of deer away because they killed them all. It works for now, but I doubt it will last. Deer are smart when they want to be and will learn its just a decoy over time. They are also tame and hang around population areas.

          Plenty of free meat though. 🙂

        • Not a hunter nor do I fancy me some venison, but after watching some *horrendous* herds of deer in residential neighborhoods I came to the conclusion that it should be completely legal without a license or restrictions of season or time of day, you should be able to harvest deer with a knife so long as you have the permission of the landowner. Many residential deer will not get out of the way if you are blowing your car horn at them. Step out, cut a nice one’s throat, and commence field dressing on the spot.

    • Derp, I forgot to add that bear meat is allegedly pretty good if you turn it into jerky. The pelts will definitely keep you warm if tanned and broken in. If nothing else, make a wall hanger out of it. It’s all in the preparation.

      • Any meat is good in Jerky… But bear pelts are dirty and nasty, especially if you get them in the beginning of spring.

    • Suspicious Fisherman,

      I don’t know about grizzly bear meat. I can tell you that I have had outstanding black bear meat. If grizzly tastes like black bear, then that can be some outstanding (tasty) meat.

      • I’ve only had it from others hunting and preparation, but everything else I have tried has been okay. I can do gamey meat, but some of it’s a little rough.

    • not a lawyer, but the same reason that other appellate courts have tangential jurisdiction over your life even if you life on the opposite coast: case law precedent. Cases ruled a certain way in a certain place years ago can effectively change the law by reinterpreting its execution/practice and cause other areas to not act in a way they know will get them slammed down in court thanks to a ruling in XYZ place.

  11. As long as there are season and tag limits, and legislation with real enforcement and teeth to it when violated, open hunting up. A license and training requirement, with a bare bones marksmanship qualification for hunting on public property would be nice, but no license or training requirements for private property; so we don’t have Joe Blow blow and the drunken eight going out blasting away anything that moves. Usually requiring a little bit of effort for an activity will keep most of the trouble makers away.

    Too bad extremists on both sides of the fence make the middle ground of limited seasons and conservation virtually impossible. It’s either total protection or total extermination.

  12. “Not a single (scientific) paper has said they are OK in the long term,”

    Studies which aim to show that something is OK don’t attract too much of grant money. Now panic inducing “Sky is falling!” ones on the other hand…


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