MISSOULA – It’s been just a few days since the proposed grizzly hunt in Wyoming was set to start.
U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen put a two-week hold on the proposed event, to better allow the plaintiffs to present its case on August 30th in a Missoula courtroom.
Back in 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the Yellowstone Grizzly from the Endangered Species List effectively shifted management of the bear to the states.
After the state of Wyoming voted on and approved a hunt, it created a lottery system for licenses. The lottery system was a free-for-all, meaning anyone could enter the contest.
Famed photographer Tom Mangelsen, for example, entered and won. Mangelsen says he is no stranger to hunting, but he is a staunch opponent of the grizzly hunt.
He was going to use his license to shoot pictures, not bullets. He says that Wyoming is moving backwards, away from the rest of the world.
British Columbia, an area that used to average about 300 bear kills a year, just recently banned grizzly bear hunting for resident and non-resident hunters. Idaho only allowed one bear to be killed this year, and Montana isn’t allowing any bears to be killed in a hunt.
“Here we are in Wyoming,” Mangelsen said, “starting a hunt, which makes Wyoming, which has Yellowstone Park, Grand Teton Park — the Crown Jewels of the Park Service, look pretty bad to the rest of the country, and to the rest of the world as being pretty backwards.
People come here, come to Yellowstone – the main animal they want to see are grizzly bears.”
However, outfitters in Wyoming say Judge Christensen’s ruling is pulling bear management rights away from the states. In his ruling, Christensen said “the threat of death to individual bears posed by the scheduled hunts is sufficient” to delay the hunting season.
Outfitter Taylor Engum with East Fork Outfitters says he was disappointed with the ruling, but he also trusts the people in charge of the case.
Elk season is still going, so his business isn’t sitting stagnant while he waits to hear Judge Christensen’s decision in two weeks.
“If the hunt goes ahead, then I’m happy that the bears can remain under state management,” said Engum. “If the hunt does not go ahead, I’ll be disappointed, then the state of Wyoming will appeal, and we’ll just have to make our case in another court.”
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