The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, a group that includes representatives of five federal agencies, four states and the Canadian government, announced last week Thursday that they have decided upon a plan that would allow grizzles to be hunted in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho once they are removed from the threatened list.
There are about 600 grizzles in and around Yellowstone National Park come and roughly 1,000 grizzlies in an area centered on Glacier National Park. Regulated hunting could begin in the next few years. The IGBC said that hunting would minimize conflicts between bears and humans, mainly ranchers whose stock has taken a hit in recent years.
But while hunters and ranchers are excited at the proposition of grizzly hunting, some are not.
Hailee Newman of the Buffalo Field Campaign spoke against the idea at the IGBC meeting.
“Before they’re even delisted, we’re talking about keeping their numbers down,” Newman said. “Why are we brainstorming about ways to keep grizzlies from walking where they once walked?”
Committee member Gregg Losinski of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game assured meeting attendees that this was not a spur of the moment idea. “We need to alert the public we’re aware of all the different aspects of bear management,” Losinski said. “But we can’t wait. We’ve been thinking about this for over a decade.”
It’s important to note that this committee has not opened nor does it have the authority to declare a grizzly season. Rather, the IGBC has developed the as-still-unreleased-plan in order to help states develop their own plan if and when grizzles become delisted.
Outdoor Life will keep you posted as news on this momentous decision becomes available.