The federal government believes that when the grizzly bear population hit 600 in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, it had done its job. Now at 700, they’re ready to delist the bears as endangered and hand “conservation” of grizzlies over to Montana, Wyoming and Idaho — who are ready to let hunters shoot them, despite overwhelming citizen support (including at a public meeting in Bozeman) for not shooting them.
“Why rush when you’re as close as you are to your absolute minimum?” David Mattson, a grizzly researcher retired from the U.S. Geological Survey and no longer on the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, told The Humane Society of the United States. The bears are expanding beyond Yellowstone and Grand Teton because there’s less for them to eat in the parks — which will make them more vulnerable to hunters if they are delisted.
“Grizzly bears haven’t evolved to be hunted like game,” said Robert Wielgus of Washington State University, who cites to HSUS in the above article the negative impacts of trophy hunting in Canada and details the territory rituals of grizzlies that push females and cubs closer to humans.
Many grizzlies have learned that it’s safe to let their cubs eat near public roadways, where they’re a popular attraction in national parks. These bears will be the first to be shot for their skins, heads and claws, if they are delisted and hunted as trophies.
What’s more, many scientists believe that the grizzlies we do have now need to mix their gene pools, meaning they’d need to travel safely between national park areas.
Once found in most western states, our country’s majestic grizzly bears were once hunted to near-extiniction. The type on the California flag is extinct. Let’s not allow this to happen again.
Please let Dept. of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, who’s headed home to Seattle soon, that this is not a responsible way to handle protection of our fragile grizzly population. Here’s the letter I pasted into its feedback form:
Dear Secty. Jewell, I’m a Seattleite who read with pride this spring’s UW Columns Magazine profile of you, which mentions your imminent return to the Northwest. I know you have to strike compromises, but I don’t see it as responsible to delist grizzlies in and around Yellowstone as endangered when their population is barely above what’s considered recovered. To make it in the long term, these bears need to safely reach bears to the south to mix their gene pools. They also need to continue to trust that they will not be shot if they’re near roadways, where tourists love them and the mother bears and cubs are safe from males who are switching territories. Please don’t allow your legacy to include setting the stage for the decline of grizzlies, after all this country has done to bring them back from the brink of extinction. Thank you!