A lot has changed since the 1970s when hunters were legally able to take aim at grizzly bears in Wyoming. With last year’s de-listing announcement, which was wrought with controversy, Wyoming officials are taking the necessary steps to properly manage the budding population by proposing possible hunting seasons.
The Wyoming Grizzly Bear Management Plan
Removed from the federal protection afforded by the Endangered Species List, future management of grizzly bears is once again in the hands of the state. As such, a management plan was drafted well ahead of de-listing and was eventually approved in May of 2016.
The plan was broken down into five succinct sections including education, population monitoring, conflict management and hunting.
With the best interests of the bears in mind, the plan outlined an ethical and science-based approach to managing these apex predators. Community meetings were scheduled and held across the state through November and December of last year allowing residents the opportunity to voice their concerns, support or disdain for the plan itself.
The conversations were broad-reaching and informative for the Game and Fish Commission and chief game warden Brian Nesvik presented a brief summary of the public feedback and how it will be used this week.
“The people who took time to give us thoughts on grizzly bear management had many good ideas. This includes ramping up education about bears, involving citizen science to report grizzly sightings, ideas for new research topics, using non-lethal techniques to reduce conflicts and establishing regulated hunting,” said Nesvik. “We will be working to put these ideas into practice during the years to come.”
The feedback was ultimately in the interest of the bears, which quite honestly, is refreshing. In addition to supporting additional research and analysis on conflict, population estimates, and interactions with other wildlife, most were in support of introducing hunting as a management tool.
Those opposing or concerned about introducing hunting only had a penchant for additional common-sense regulations surrounding prospective hunts. Asking for mandatory hunter education, hunting problem animals and a prohibition on baiting were of chief concern.
With the positive public sentiment surrounding a prospective hunt, Wyoming Game and Fish will continue to fine-tune a hunting regulation. Draft hunting seasons are expected to be presented and released for public comment at some point in February.