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Tolerance Key To Grizzly Bear Conservation, Game and Fish Dept Says

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By Mark Davis, Powell Tribune

Education is the top priority in Wyoming’s $55 million, decades-long battle to recover and conserve grizzly bears. The success of the Bear Wise program — the department’s large carnivore educational outreach program — has helped keep both bears and people safe, according to state officials. But the department is at a crossroads: Its goal of building tolerance among landowners and residents is in jeopardy of wearing thin as conflicts continue to increase.

“Tolerance goes down as conflicts go up,” Brian DeBolt, large carnivore conflict coordinator for the department, told the Game and Fish Commission in April.

In many ways, DeBolt and the rest of the large carnivore team find themselves in a tight spot. The federal government calls all the shots while the species is listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Despite being deemed recovered for years by a federal conservation governing body, efforts to delist the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s grizzlies have been unsuccessful, while bears keep spreading out into areas fraught with conflict. At the same time, more visitors from outside the Yellowstone ecosystem — many who haven’t seen the messaging from Bear Wise Wyoming — are pouring in, hoping to get a glimpse of the charismatic critters.

DeBolt and large carnivore team supervisor Dan Thompson — considered the state’s top experts — outlined the pressing issues of livestock depredation and aggressive bears in residential neighborhoods at the commission’s April 22 meeting. They also heralded recently improved removal rates and educational opportunities seized despite the pandemic.

“A huge component of having large carnivores on the landscape is managing conflicts,” Thompson said.

There were 208 conflicts with grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in 2020, with 50% occurring on private property.

Thompson and DeBolt spoke to the Game and Fish’s governing body as the first grizzly attack of the year was hitting newsstands. Carl Mock, a backcountry guide from West Yellowstone, Montana, was mauled by a grizzly bear during a solo fishing trip on the Madison River just outside of Yellowstone National Park. The 40-year-old Mock died two days later, on April 17.

The bear is believed to have been defending a nearby food cache — a natural defense mechanism for the species — as a moose carcass was located near the scene of the attack. The bear was later killed as it charged a large contingent of officials responding to the scene.

Bear spray residue found on Mock’s clothing suggested he tried to ward off the attack, The Associated Press reported. Mock usually carried a pistol in addition to the spray, but didn’t that day. By the time rescuers reached him, he was propped up at the base of a tree with his canister of spray in one hand and his other hand missing — lost in the battle with the bruin.

Mock wasn’t just a statistic to be bantered around in the constant debate over management protocols, Thompson said. Nor was Mark Uptain, a guide killed in the Teton wilderness in 2018, or any of the deaths and injuries that have unfolded in recent years. They were family members and friends.

But the attacks, hyped in big headlines in some publications, also become ammunition used by some to demonize the species, the recovery efforts of the state and federal government, and predator management as a whole. 

“I understand their frustration,” Thompson said. “It is very tough, because we’ve asked the public to trust in us. And we’ve done everything we can to recover and prove that we’ve recovered grizzly bears. But we’re still dealing with a listed population.”

He said tolerance is impossible to quantify, but when a person gets injured or killed, “it obviously impacts the general thought process of a lot of people about grizzly bears in the [Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem].”

Wyoming’s large carnivore team walks a narrow line between protecting humans and protecting the predator species unique to our ecosystem.

“There’s international interest and scrutiny on what we do,” Thompson said.

Wolves, mountain lions and bears have all been misunderstood while being displaced by the fragmented habitat of progress, he said. There were still bounties on mountain lions deep into the 20th century in the U.S., offering hard currency to anyone willing to shoot the species, with no limits or regulations. 

Thompson told commissioners that the department’s proactive measures to inform and educate the public are “very critical” to large carnivore management. The Game and Fish’s large carnivore team started with just a few people, he said, but has expanded to 10 full-time employees and several temporary hires, “just to be able to deal with these things as the population expands.”

The official estimate of grizzlies within the Demographic Monitoring Area — an area deemed as suitable bear habitat — is about 730 bears. However, drawing from population data presented by the Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, Thompson said there are likely more than 1,000 of the predators in that area, “and have been since 2015.”

Officials refuse to give an educated estimate as to how many additional bears have moved outside the monitoring area, but based on the growing footprint of the bear, many guess there are hundreds more; reported grizzly conflicts outside the boundaries of the DMA span a region the size of New Jersey.

However, critics question such population “guesstimates” and some claim higher estimates will result in more grizzly deaths, including eventual hunting of the species. While grizzly bear hunts have become a flashpoint in debates over delisting, Thompson points out that the state manages the hunting of black bears, wolves and mountain lions, all of which are steadily increasing in population.

“Without the public buying in, without public support and tolerance for these species, we can’t move forward,” he said. “That’s why we make a huge effort to understand all the different perspectives from the public — from those who adore [predators], to those who hate them.”

The Bear Wise and loss mitigation programs remain important parts of building tolerance, Thompson said. The department has paid millions in compensation for livestock lost to predators and is constantly looking for ways to get its messages out to residents and visitors. The program is seeking to expand bear spray giveaways and educational efforts as COVID-19 vaccinations make it possible for officials to schedule live events.

“My message to the public is to do everything you can to be safe, and do everything you can to protect yourself,” Thompson said.

Despite the many critics from communities in grizzly habitat and around the globe, he considers all opinions valid as the debate rages.

“I’ve always said that we can use [the passion for the species] to our advantage,” he said. “I’d rather have interest than apathy.”

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Lummis Promotes Grizzly Delisting While Questioning Biden Nominee

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

After questioning President Joe Biden’s nominee for assistant secretary of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis remains unsure about whether she will vote to confirm the woman to the post, according to her office.

An aide to Lummis to the senator said while Lummis appreciated Shannon Estenoz’ statements during a Senate committee hearing that the state management of grizzly bears is central to continuing the species’ recovery.

“Wyoming, Idaho and Montana first achieved all of the grizzly bear’s recovery objectives set by the federal government in 1997, more than 24 years ago,” the aide said. “The committee will vote on Estenoz’s nomination in coming weeks (the date has yet to be determined). Sen. Lummis is still considering how she will vote on her nomination.”

Lummis asked Estenoz during the hearing whether grizzlies should be removed from the Endangered Species List, given the fact the recovery of the bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is one of the greatest success stories of the Endangered Species Act.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Bush administration, the Obama administration and the Trump administration’s all agreed that the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear population has recovered and should be delisted,” Lummis said. “Do you believe we should keep species on the list?”

Estenoz agreed that the Yellowstone area grizzly “is doing very, very well.”

“I believe when species meet the definition of delisting or down-listing, then we should delist or down-list,” Estenoz said.

“It’s really important for folks to feel supported and listened to and that we have the right tools in the toolbox to help folks live and exist with a recovering predator species, and state management and state expertise as I said before is absolutely central to this approach,” she said.

Estenoz said if she is confirmed, she will prioritize working with communities to “recover,” or delist, predators in particular.

In 1975, there were 136 grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In 2019, there were 728 bears, evidence of an effective conservation effort. At this point, grizzly numbers have been in the 700s for a number of years. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team’s analysis suggests that the park is at or near its ecological carrying capacity for grizzly bears.

Lummis is a sponsor of the Grizzly Bear State Management Act of 2021, which would remove grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the Endangered Species List and shift management of the grizzlies to wildlife scientists in the states. U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives.

Bears have become so populous in the park and Yellowstone area that it is common for tourists to encounter them every summer. This week, a woman was charged by a grizzly while filming three bears running around.

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Tourist Season Begins: Woman Charged By Grizzly Bear In Yellowstone

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

It might be still winter-like in some parts of Wyoming, but summer has officially arrived at Yellowstone National Park with the season’s first encounter between a park visitor and a grizzly bear.

Thankfully it didn’t go nearly as badly as it could have, but still, why do people keep getting so close to wild animals? Is the close-up video that worth it? Did you not watch “Grizzly Man?”

A video shared by NBC Montana shows a woman recording three grizzly bears at a relatively short distance. As the bears run around, one charges toward her, causing her to put her phone down and walk back toward her vehicle.

“Darcie Addington took this from the safety of her vehicle,” the tweet by the TV station said. “She doesn’t know the other woman, but says several people warned her. Remember to give bears at least 100 yards of space.”

According to the National Park Service, a bluff charge is the more common type of charge and is meant to scare or intimidate. If a bluff charge is about to happen, a person is supposed to slowly back away from the bear while waving their arms above their head and speaking to the bear in a calm voice.

People should not run when a bear bluff charges, because it may trigger the animal to attack.

Late last month, a woman near Durango, Colorado was mauled and killed by a black bear when she was out walking her dogs.

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Grizzly 399, Cubs Spotted Over Weekend In Grand Teton National Park

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Nearly a month after last being seen, Wyoming’s most famous grizzly bear family was spotted again over the weekend.

Grizzly 399 and her four cubs were spotted in Grand Teton National Park over the weekend. Hunter Chip Burgess shared a video of the five bears walking on a roadway, with a line of cars stopped to get pictures and videos of the grizzlies.

“Hunted Rockefeller Parkway this morning and was treated to this on the way back through Grand Teton. Front row seats,” he wrote on Facebook.

A park ranger was at the head of the car line, keeping people and vehicles away from the bears.

In the video, the cubs seemed to be unbothered by their legion of fans, but 399 started walking away from the cars, looking behind her to make sure her babies weren’t too far behind. Well, they’re not quite babies anymore, but they’re still her babies.

The cubs soon realized their mom was gone and soon ran to catch up with her. One trailed behind a bit more than its three siblings, but the family got a move on with the park ranger’s vehicle following closely behind.

The grizzlies were last seen in April, as reported by Cowboy State Daily, which was their first sighting following hibernation. They went into hibernation a little later than usual, but it was due to their continual finding of food in the area.

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Female Grizzly Killed West of Wyoming; $40,000 Reward Offered

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By staff reports, Cowboy State Daily

A $40,000 reward has been offered for information in the the killing of a female grizzly bear in Idaho in an area about 10 miles west of Yellowstone National Park.

The Idaho Fish and Game Department on Monday announced the killing of the grizzly which authorities believe occurred in mid-March at the Pole Bridge Campground and also resulted in the death of her 6 to 8 week cub.

“The loss of a reproductive female grizzly is a real tragedy,” Regional Conservation Officer Doug Petersen said. “Someone out there knows what happened to this bear and we are asking them to come forward and share that information with us.”

Officials found the bear, which was shot numerous times, partially submerged in the Little Warm River after receiving a mortality signal from its collar. The cub was later discovered in the bear’s den.

This is the third shooting of a grizzly in the area in the last 10 months. 

In September of 2020 an adult male grizzly was shot and killed in Coyote Meadows followed by the shooting of a young male bear in November that was discovered near the Cold Springs Road. All three cases remain under investigation.

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West Yellowstone Man Dies After Being Attacked by Grizzly

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

A West Yellowstone man died Saturday after being attacked by a grizzly bear two days earlier.

Friends and family of Carl Mock, 40, announced his death on Saturday on a GoFundMe page which was originally set-up to pay for his medical bills.

Officials said the bear attack on the backcountry guide occurred on Thursday near the Baker’s Hole campground area, approximately 3 miles north of the West Yellowstone entrance of Yellowstone National Park and 2 miles west of the Wyoming state line.

Mock was taken to an Idaho Falls hospital with significant scalp and facial injuries. According to the GoFundMe page, Mock succumbed to his injuries after suffering a “massive” stroke.

“This comes as a terrible shock and is heartbreaking to everyone, since both of his surgeries went so well,” said Keith Johnson, organizer of the fundraising effort.

“All of the money that is being donated on this page… will be given to the family to help cover the medical bills and the funeral costs,” Johnson said.

Officials with the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Department said Mock had bear spray, but it was unclear if he was able to deploy it during the attack.

An older male grizzly was shot and killed on Friday while game wardens and bear specialists were conducting an investigation at the scene of the attack.

“They yelled and made continuous noise as they walked toward the site to haze away any bears in the area,” the department said in a release. “Before they reached the site, a bear began charging the group.”

“Despite multiple attempts by all seven people to haze away the bear, it continued its charge. Due to this immediate safety risk, the bear was shot and died about 20 yards from the group,” the department said.

The U.S. Forest Service issued an emergency public-safety closure in the area Thursday afternoon. The closure remains in effect.

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COVID-19 Has Changed The Way Large Carnivore Education Is Taught

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By Mark Davis, Powell Tribune

The past 12 months have been tough for Dusty Lasseter. The COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of his efforts at a critical time in the grizzly bear education business.

Between the record number of visitors to Yellowstone National Park in the final two months of 2020 and the recent upswing in interest in outdoor activities sparked by the pandemic, 2021 could be yet another record year for tourism in northwest Wyoming. At the same time, officials in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho report grizzly populations that are continuing to grow and expand outside what is considered suitable habitat in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

“I think the toughest thing with COVID was not having face-to-face interaction and presentations with the public,” said Lasseter, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Bear Wise education coordinator.

The program typically reaches thousands, teaching both residents and visitors the importance of learning to safely live and recreate in grizzly bear habitat.

“It really limited our ability to give presentations to the public and host groups of people,” he said. “Even our one-on-one interactions at a booth in an event — those were all just canceled.”

Education has proven to be an important tool in grizzly conflict mitigation. Statistics show positive changes over time — especially on private property. There was a time when the highest percentage of conflicts were due to unsecured attractants. Lasseter helped lead the charge to make landowners and residents aware of the issue and now it’s barely a blip on the radar. Of the 208 conflicts reported by Wyoming officials last year, only two came from unsecured attractants.

Yet, while the lessons are effective with residents, reaching the increasing wave of tourists flocking to the area is difficult. One example can be seen at Yellowstone. A recent survey showed only 19% of individual day hikers carry bear spray and 44% travel in groups of two or more. At the same time, surveys of those who travel deeper into the back country — which requires a permit and gives officials opportunities to provide education — showed 64% of individuals carried bear spray and 84% of groups had at least one can.

With expansion of the species’ footprint in the ecosystem — both in immediate areas and recently in population bases such as Red Lodge, Montana — education is increasingly important. Montana’s 10-year average for conflicts is 81, but the state recorded 101 conflicts in 2020. About 20% of those conflicts were well outside the boundaries of suitable habitat known as the Demographic Monitoring Area (DMA) in the Beartooth Mountain range near Red Lodge. Conflict areas are expanding in Wyoming as well, said Game and Fish large carnivore section supervisor Dan Thompson.

“We have a lot more people using [grizzly bear] habitat that aren’t used to recreating in those areas,” he said Thursday at the virtual spring meeting of the Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee (YES) of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee. It’s a group tasked with conservation efforts for the species inside the DMA.

“We have an area the size of the state of New Jersey occupied outside what we consider suitable habitat for grizzly bears right now,” Thompson said. “So that obviously increases that chance for conflict.”

Education is important in these areas, he said. About 50% of all conflicts reported last year happened on private property. The department has been working for decades to work with landowners, expanding educational programs into new areas as the species’ footprint expands.

But last year the department was forced to improvise and adapt. Giveaways of free bear spray moved from in-person handouts to non-contact drive-thrus. Lessons normally presented in person were translated to social media posts and online projects. And the Game and Fish is working closer with non-government organizations to present education to groups likely to see conflicts, such as area hunters.

In one project, the department teamed up with the Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association (WYOGA) to produce a new video aimed at educating back country hunters. The video, scheduled to debut this week, attempts to teach grizzly bear behavior so hunters know how to best avoid and mitigate conflicts.

“It’s hopefully a template for the future. It’s really well done and something we’re going to also be using as we move forward,” Thompson said.

Park County Commissioner Lee Livingston, who also sits on the board of directors at WYOGA, said the project is being tweaked before its release. He’s hopeful the video will decrease the danger back country recreationalists face in grizzly habitat and result in less mortality for the species.

Lasseter, who appears in WYOGA’s video, said changes made during this past year will continue in future educational efforts.

“We’re really focusing on providing more video material for folks so they can [view educational content] from the comfort of their home,” he said, adding, “COVID really changed my mindset on how important it is to show people their behavior because people have so few interactions with bears on the landscape. There’s just a ton of value in teaching people bear behavior in videos.”

The availability of online educational content may help get the word out to visitors as well, he said. “A lot of people will be searching for resources before they get here. They’ll be looking at videos online and, hopefully, we can direct them to our Bear Wise information on the Game and Fish site.”

Game and Fish is also expanding bear spray giveaways into other communities this coming summer, including in Lander, Dubois and Jackson. And, with continued success in vaccinations, Lasseter hopes to once again be able to get back to in-person training.

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Grizzly 399 And Her Four Cubs Are Out And About

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

If there is a bear more celebrated than 25-year-old Grizzly 399 (and her four cubs), we’re not aware of it.

So let the celebration begin, because 399 and her brood are awake and seem to be doing well.

Credit to our friends over at Mountain Journal for letting us know about it.

They report that 399 was spotted on Thursday morning in a couple unspecified locations but probably in or near Grand Teton National Park.

“They all appear well — though a bit thin — which is to be expected after a long winter slumber,” the journal writes.

The publication opined that some thought the bears wouldn’t emerge from hibernation for a couple more weeks.

But once they’re out, they’re out.

The last time Cowboy State Daily reported on 399 was on Jan. 5 when the Wyoming Game and Fish Department thought the bears had gone to their den for hibernation. 

It was a little later than usual but that was because the family had stumbled on to many gut-piles in the area.

“Staying out a little longer for this high-protein food source has proven pretty productive for grizzly 399 and her offspring,” department spokesman Mark Gocke said.

399 dropped her radio collar years ago, so agencies have to rely on sightings to know where and how she is.

Although it’s exciting to know that 399 is back at it, we hope that she and her cubs are given plenty of space by curious observers.

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Grizzlies Recommended For Threatened Listing, Wyoming Officials Disagree

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming officials are disagreeing with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommendation to leave grizzly bears on the threatened wildlife list for at least five more years.

Last week, the agency recommended that no change be made to the to the grizzlies’ status as threatened under the Endangered Species Act for at least five years, which will allow for a status review.

But Wyoming officials maintain the recommendation is not based in the reality of what is happening with the bears in the park.

“The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem bear population is booming, growing from as few as 136  bears during early recovery periods to potentially more than 1,000 in the ecosystem today,” said Brian Nesvik, director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. “The traditional range has expanded beyond what is considered biological and socially suitable habitats by 7,738 square miles. Yet, it remains listed because of endless federal lawsuits litigated in courts outside of Wyoming and disengagement from what is happening on-the-ground in our state.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service’s recommendation to leave the bears on the list came after a thorough review of the best available science, the agency said in a statement, which was informed by an independently peer-reviews species status assessment.

The recommendation did confirm that grizzly populations in the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide ecosystems are biologically recovered. However, the five-year status review would allow for assessment of the species as a whole across the 48 contiguous states.

The assessment will evaluate the species’ current needs, conditions and threats, as well as modeling future scenarios. The remaining challenges with their threatened status include limited habitat connectivity, management of access by motorized vehicles, human-caused mortality and uncertainty surrounding future conservation efforts in some ecosystems, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Grizzlies were originally listed as threatened in 1975 and then removed from the endangered species list in 2017 by the Fish and Wildlife Service, which cited a significant increase in bear populations.

However, in 2018, a federal court reversed the agency’s decision.

Nesvik said the decision to continue to list the bears as threatened ignores the progress that has been made in their recovery.

“By all federally mandated criteria and scientific measures, the grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has reached and exceeded recovery status for more than 20 years,” he said. “Over the last 40 years, Wyoming has contributed over $50 million to meet the high-bar required for delisting. These contributions have come largely from hunters and anglers.”

Gov. Mark Gordon agreed with Nesvik’s sentiments and is backing a proposal by the state’s congressional delegation to remove the bears from the endangered species list.

“The governor is supportive of the legislation introduced by our (congressional) delegation that would de-list grizzly bears,” Gordon’s spokesman Michael Pearlman told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday. “Wyoming’s grizzly bears have been biologically recovered for more than a decade, and therefore the state should be managing the species.”

U.S. Sens. Cynthia Lummis and John Barrasso have joined U.S. senators from Idaho and Montana in introducing legislation to remove grizzly bears from the endangered species list.

In late February, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney reintroduced a bill to Congress that would remove grizzly bears from the endangered species list and prevent them from being considered threatened or endangered wildlife in the future.

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Delisting & Hunting Grizzlies Best For Bears and People, Officials Say

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

A congressional proposal to remove grizzly bears from the endangered species list would benefit the bears and humans, according to hunters and the state Game and Fish Department.

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis, joined by U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, is sponsoring legislation to “delist” the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s grizzlies and put their management in the hands of state wildlife officials.

Joe Kondelis is the president of the Western Bear Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and development of bears, bear habitat, and bear hunting in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. 

In his opinion, the legislation is welcome.

“The only way we’re going to get the grizzly bear delisted, in my opinion, is to do it federally, because time has proven that anti-delisting groups litigating and suing prevent putting it into state management,” Kondelis said.

The politics of delisting are frustrating for Kondelis and his organization, he said.

“I think the struggles have been — we have one criteria for a species, until that criteria is met… and then society changes that,” he said. “The scientists and the managers haven’t changed it, but public perception changes, and then all of us who live in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem have to suffer.”

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Director, Brian Nesvik, in the December issue of the department’s magazine “Wyoming Wildlife,” expressed his own frustration in the slow-moving inner workings of politics when it comes to the management of the burly bruins.

“Despite the fact that the population is recovered by all scientific measures and has been for nearly 20 years, the state is not allowed to implement its grizzly bear management plans,” Nesvik wrote. 

Kondelis said his organization is also advocating for state management of the bears, rather than putting them under the auspices of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“If we could move into state management we would have more flexibility to manage the population for health and sustainability,” he noted. 

In the “Wyoming Wildlife” article, Nesvik detailed the efforts that have been made by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for grizzlies and other species, pointing to success in the recovery of the grey wolf population, which is thriving even after four years of legal hunting in Wyoming.

Hunting, as a matter of fact, is one of the key tools used in wildlife population management, according to Nesvik.

“Our time-tested model for managing many wildlife species in North America, including large carnivores, has always included hunting,” he wrote.

Kondelis’ organization agrees.

The Western Bear Foundation, based in Cody, is both a hunter advocacy group and a bear conservation organization. With around 500 volunteer members comprised of representatives from most states, the Foundation has a vested interest in the survival of the species.

“Are we doing enough at the state level to ensure there’s a future for bears on our landscape, for not only hunters to enjoy but for everyone to enjoy?” Kondelis asked. “With that comes proper sound management and using science to basically guide our decisions as far as management goes.”

Kondelis said he knows many sportsmen and others who recreate in the northern Continental Divide ecosystem who have had encounters with grizzly and other bears.

“It’s becoming part of the lexicon out West,” he said. 

He added that the estimates that are being reported regarding the bear population are most likely on the conservative side and are likely skewed by the fact animals are wandering more and more outside their traditional habitat.

“These bears are moving out of their native ranges and into new areas that they’ve never been since the settlers came over,” he said. “And so that’s where the trouble has been lately — not in the demographic monitoring area as much as it has been outside of that.”

Lummis introduced the Grizzly Bear State Management Act of 2021 Barrasso and fellow U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and James Risch of Idaho and Steve Daines of Montana. The companion version of this legislation was previously introduced in the House by Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming.

In 1975, there were 136 grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In 2019, there were 728 bears, evidence of an effective conservation effort. At this point, grizzly numbers have been in the 700s for a number of years. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team’s analysis suggests that the park is at or near its ecological carrying capacity for grizzly bears.

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