At Predator Bait, a combined love of hunting and fishing is in our western DNA. So we’ve been watching with some interest as a major case has unfolded around one of the most iconic, fish-eating, apex hunters of our region — the grizzly bear.
If you hadn’t heard, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared earlier this summer that the grizzlies of Yellowstone National Park have made enough of a population rebound to warrant being removed from the service’s list of threatened species. Since then, the service has transferred to the state level the management of some 700 bears living in parts of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. That’s not to say the service will be completely detached from its former charges. While state wildlife agencies will handle the daily operations of managing these bears, the feds will still monitor operations and keep an eye on population counts with the option of placing grizzlies back under protection if their numbers dip too low.
Some environmental advocacy groups have already signaled an intent to sue to place the bears back under federal protection. Those suits are held off for now due to mandatory timelines set forth in the Endangered Species Act. In the meantime, the management plans laid out by the three states in question have caused speculation to swirl about possible grizzly hunts in the Yellowstone area. None of the states plan to hold a grizzly hunt this year, and any future hunts would likely be carefully scrutinized.
The grizzly bear is a powerful symbol of the west. It’s exciting to see these bears reestablish their foothold in the wild places of our country and it’ll be an interesting question in future years to see if we deem them eligible for the hunt.