Why These Grizzly-Loving Women Entered a Lottery to Hunt Grizzlies

Inside the environmental protest sweeping Wyoming.

Grizzly bear 399 and three of her cubs.
Grizzly bear 399 and three of her cubs. COURTESY THOMAS D. MANGELSEN

ON THE MORNING OF THURSDAY, July 26, around 7,000 people logged in to the website of the Wyoming Game & Fish Department, their fingers crossed. All had entered a lottery that would allow them to hunt a grizzly bear in the continental United States for the first time in decades.

One of these people was Kelly Mayor—a 56-year-old resident of Jackson, Wyoming. She had entered the lottery at the very last minute, just hours before it closed, and didn’t think to check the results until she got a reminder email. When she clicked through, she was greeted by a screen that said “#2.” She’d won the second spot in the hunt. “I was dumbfounded,” she says.

Mayor doesn’t actually want to kill a grizzly. She, like thousands of others across the country, entered the bear tag lottery as an act of protest. All these people are part of “Shoot ‘Em With a Camera, Not a Gun,” a movement spearheaded by a group of Wyoming women who are hoping to change how their state thinks about wildlife management—and maybe save some grizzlies in the process.

A grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park.
A grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park. YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK/PUBLIC DOMAIN

Huge and shaggy-coated, the grizzly bear is an icon of the American west. About 700 of them live in and around Yellowstone National Park, the beneficiaries of conservation efforts that have brought their numbers up fivefold since the mid-1970s, when they were first added to the endangered species list and began receiving federal protection. Last summer, Yellowstone-area grizzlies were removed from the list, and management of the bears was turned over to the states of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.

Montana decided not to have a hunt this year, and Idaho is raffling off a single license. But this past spring, the Wyoming Game & Fish Commission—the policy arm of the Game & Fish Department—voted unanimously to allow up to 22 bears to be killed. Commissioners argue that hunting a limited number of bears will reduce human-wildlife conflict, and that provisions in place—including mandatory training for tag winners and a prohibition on killing female bears with dependent young—will prevent the hunt from affecting the species’s recovery.

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Others disagree with the decision. The American Society of Mammalogists has called the delisting “premature,” pointing out that although their population numbers have gone up, grizzlies are still not prevalent enough to guarantee a robust and genetically diverse population. Thanks to a campaign from the Center for Biological Diversity, several billboards in the West now depict a grizzly with the legend “I am not a trophy.”

Nonconsumptive advocates, photographing grizzlies outside Yellowstone.
Nonconsumptive advocates, photographing grizzlies outside Yellowstone. JAMES ST. JOHN/CC BY 2.0

One of the hunt’s opponents is Deidre Bainbridge, a lawyer who also lives in Jackson. Bainbridge is passionate about wildlife, and for years, she and others have been advocating for a category of nature enthusiast she calls “the non-consumptive advocate.” As opposed to a hunter, fisher, or trapper, Bainbridge explains, a non-consumptive advocate “cares about wildlife simply because it’s there”—although people may want to see it, or take a picture, they aren’t looking to kill it.

Because the Game & Fish department is funded by hunting and fishing licenses, along with firearm, ammunition, and fishing tackle sales, “that kind of person doesn’t have a voice” in management decisions, she says. (Game and Fish spokesman Renny MacKay says that the department “takes in significant amounts of public comment” through meetings and online, and that there are “definitely some ways that we [accounted for] some perspectives from people who aren’t hunters,” including prohibiting hunting within a quarter mile of a road.)

But what if non-consumptive advocates started buying hunting licenses, too? Late this spring, after a Game & Fish meeting she found particularly frustrating, Bainbridge got together with Lisa Robertson—the founder of Wyoming Untrapped, a local trapping reform advocacy group—and started combing through regulations for the grizzly hunt. “I couldn’t see where [we would be] interfering with a lawful hunt by buying a tag,” Bainbridge says. After all, she points out, people with hunting tags often choose not to pull the trigger, for all kinds of reasons. “We decided to do it.”

The more of them who entered the lottery, they figured, the better their odds of actually winning. Bainbridge and Robertson put their heads together with a few other concerned local women, each of whom brought their own particular skills: one is a well-connected philanthropist, one is a film producer with a lot of high-profile contacts, and one is an animal rights activist with a long history in the community.

The five founders of Shoot 'Em With a Camera—from left, Judy Hofflund, Deidre Bainbridge, Heather Mycoskie, Lisa Robertson, and Ann Smith.
The five founders of Shoot ‘Em With a Camera—from left, Judy Hofflund, Deidre Bainbridge, Heather Mycoskie, Lisa Robertson, and Ann Smith. COURTESY DEIDRE BAINBRIDGE

Together, they began spreading the word, via a Facebook group and an ad in a local paper. They also started a GoFundMe campaign, so that if anyone actually did win a tag, the group could cover the associated costs, which begin at $600 for a Wyoming resident and $6,000 for an out-of-stater. “I would never have put in for a tag if I didn’t know that it could be reimbursed,” says Mayor, who found the campaign when a friend shared it on Facebook. She joined due to what she calls a “visceral” opposition to hunting animals just for sport. “I’m not opposed to hunting—my husband hunts, and we usually have game meat in the freezer,” he says. “But trophy hunting has always just hit me at my core.”

Many others felt similarly. “We had momentum within 48 hours,” Bainbridge says. “Women all over the country got involved.” It drew some big names: Jane Goodall applied for a grizzly tag, as did legendary elephant conservationist Cynthia Moss. As of press time, the GoFundMe has raised over $40,000, and Robertson told theAssociated Press that of the 7,000 or so people who entered the lottery, at least 1,000 were “Shoot ‘Em With a Camera” participants.

Some of these entrants, like Bainbridge, are playing the long game, intending that this will help Wyoming photographers and sightseers have a voice in wildlife management. “Others did it to simply stop the [gun-based] hunt for 10 days,” Bainbridge says—the length of time each tag-holder can spend in the field before they have to cede their ground to the next person. (The group focused their efforts on the lottery for Areas 1-6, where up to 10 grizzlies can be killed over the course of 60 days.)

Kelly Mayor looks out over Wyoming grizzly territory, where she may soon spend ten days.
Kelly Mayor looks out over Wyoming grizzly territory, where she may soon spend ten days. LISA ROBERTSON

In late July, the group learned that they had successfully won two tags, out of the 10 available. Mayor got #2, and the other, #8, went to Thomas Mangelsen—a wildlife photographer well-known for his images of Grizzly Bear 399, who is herself famous for mothering many cubs. “It’s almost uncanny,” says Bainbridge. “We couldn’t have planned it [this way].” If it takes the other winners more than a few days each to complete their hunts, it might be possible to run out the clock and save some bears.

In general, Shoot ‘Em With a Camera participants would prefer the hunt didn’t happen at all. On August 30, there will be a hearing in Missoula, Montana, during which opponents of the grizzly bear’s new status will try to get it returned to the endangered species list. “Our bigger quest is to prevent the trophy hunting in Wyoming [altogether], because we don’t believe that the delisting is appropriate at this time,” says Bainbridge.

But if it comes down to it, Mayor is ready to go. When she first learned she had won, she figured she would sit the actual “hunt” out. “I thought … I’d pay the tag money and walk away,” she says. But getting to know the Shoot ‘Em With a Camera crew has changed her mind. “The ladies have made it into such an amazing thing,” Mayor says. They’re going to send videographers and photographers with her, and take turns spending time out there themselves. If the hunt goes through, and her number gets called, she says, “I plan on being up there for 10 days.”

She’s looking forward to it. “I’m sort of an armchair activist,” she says. “I don’t really speak up about issues, but I definitely have feelings about things like this. This is really different for me, to have a voice.”

Alaskans say ‘no’ to cruel hunting methods for killing hibernating bears, wolf pups in dens

June 29, 2018

A rule recently proposed by the Trump administration would roll back an Obama-era regulation that prohibits controversial and scientifically unjustified methods of hunting on Alaska’s national preserves, which are federal public lands. These egregious hunting methods include the use of artificial light to attract hibernating bears and their cubs out of their dens to kill them, shooting wolf and coyote pups and mothers at their dens, using bait to attract brown and black bears, shooting vulnerable swimming caribou, including with the aid of motorboats, and using dogs to hunt black bears. Biologists have already condemned these methods, and now a supermajority of Alaska’s residents have spoken out resoundingly against allowing them in their state.

The telephone poll, conducted by Remington Research Group and released by the Humane Society of the United States, found a whopping 71 percent of Alaskan voters oppose allowing hunters to use artificial light to attract hibernating bears and their cubs out of their dens to kill them. Sixty-nine percent oppose hunting black bears with packs of hounds, and 75 percent oppose hunting swimming caribou with the aid of motorboats. Sixty percent of Alaskan voters oppose the baiting of bears with pet food, grease, rotting game or fish or other high-calorie foods, and 57 percent oppose killing whole packs of wolves and coyotes when they are raising their pups in their dens.

The poll also found that a majority of voters disfavor allowing trophy hunters and trappers killing wolves, brown bears, black bears, wolverines, lynx and other wildlife on state lands along the northeast boundary of Denali National Park and Preserve.

In complete disregard for the wishes of the state’s residents, however, the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service is now accepting public comments on the controversial rule that’s designed to benefit a handful of trophy hunters looking for their next big kill.

This indiscriminate killing of native carnivores such as grizzly bears and wolves is often justified as “protecting” ungulates, animals like caribou and moose. But in Alaska and elsewhere, studies show, such predator control, including trophy hunting or culling of wild native carnivores in order to grow game herds, just doesn’t work. In fact, that is precisely the finding of a comprehensive new study that was reported in Scientific American.

On the other hand, live native carnivores like grizzly bears and wolves contribute immensely to the state’s economy. In Alaska, wildlife-watching tourism brings $2 billion every year to local, rural economies.

Several studies in Alaska show that predator control is doomed to fail, because the unforgiving Arctic lands cannot sustain large numbers of prey herds in the short growing seasons followed by extreme winters. Alaska officials have also failed to acknowledge that with the massive killing of wolves or bears, other smaller predators rise up to compete for those same prey, rendering these cruel and harmful predator control practices utterly futile.

Most Alaskans do not want hunters, backed by the deep pockets of trophy-hunting groups like Safari Club International and Alaska Outdoor Council, treating their state as a shopping mall for bearskin rugs and wolf heads to adorn their walls. American wildlife is for all of us to enjoy, and you can do your part to help save it by submitting a commentopposing this new proposed rule by July 23.

Jimmy Kimmel scoop: Donald Trump “hates baby bears”

Jimmy Kimmel scoop: Donald Trump “hates baby bears”

https://www.fastcompany.com/40577274/jimmy-kimmel-scoop-donald-trump-hates-baby-bears

While we know that Donald Trump hates sharks, at least according to Stormy Daniels. Turns out the president also hates baby bears, at least according to Jimmy Kimmel.

Kimmel’s realization came in the wake of news that the Interior Department is ending a ban on hunting hibernating bears and their cubs in their dens. The National Park Service, under Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, apparently has a problem with some of the current protections for black bears, “including cubs and sows with cubs,” that prevent hunters from “harvest practices” that include using bait to lure bears out, using lights to find hibernating animals, and using dogs to kill bear cubs.

The National Park Service now wants to roll back those pesky rules that stop people from killing baby bears for fun, according to a proposal, which was published in the Federal Register on Tuesday. Under the proposed changes, hunters will now be able to hunt black bears with dogs, use motorboats to shoot swimming caribou, and kill wolves and pups in their dens. According to Kimmel, it’s all part of Trump’s plan to make America great again—and get rid of those evil baby bears.

Yellowstone’s grizzlies under threat from controversial hunting proposal

Nature  NEWS  03 MAY 2018

Biologists argue that plan could endanger the bear population in the iconic ecosystem.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05061-9

 

Giorgia Guglielmi

 

On 23 May, Wyoming officials will vote on whether to allow the hunting of up to two dozen grizzly bears around Yellowstone National Park this September. The proposed hunt has reignited controversy over whether or not this population of grizzlies has recovered from decades of hunting and habitat destruction — an issue that was central to the US government’s decision to take the bears in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem off the endangered-species list in 2017.

Seventy-three scientists sent a letter to Wyoming Governor Matt Mead on 25 April, asking him to halt the hunt until a panel of independent experts can review data on the size of the grizzly (Ursos arctos horribilis) population in this area.They are concerned that government tallies overestimate the number of bears in the ecosystem surrounding Yellowstone National Park, which spans roughly 80,000 square kilometres and is one of the largest continuous wilderness areas in the contiguous United States.

Critics challenge the federal government’s methods for assessing whether the grizzly population has become large enough to face a hunting season1. Those estimates might be too high because of a number of factors, says David Mattson, a wildlife researcher in Livingston, Montana, who retired from the US Geological Survey (USGS) in 2013. They include increased monitoring efforts in the past 30 years, better visibility of bears to aerial surveys — because of shifts in where the animals look for food — and assumptions that females will continue to reproduce until they die. There’s evidence that as female grizzlies age, they tend to reproduce less, Mattson says.

Wildlife scientist Frank van Manen, who leads the USGS Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST) in Bozeman, Montana, disagrees with critics of the government estimates. The IGBST collects grizzly population data using a range of methods, including aerial surveys and tagging individual bears2, van Manen says, and the numbers from each method agree. He says that the current population estimate of 718 bears is “extremely conservative”.

Restricted hunts

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department proposed the hunt in February on the basis of those population assessments, and gave the public until 30 April to submit comments on draft regulations. If the rules were to pass, hunters could take up to 12 bears in the monitored region surrounding Yellowstone National Park — an area of about 50,000 square kilometres. They would be allowed to kill a further 12 bears outside that monitoring area, but still in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. The state’s wildlife commission is currently reviewing public comments ahead of the late-May vote.

When the US Department of the Interior ended federal protections for the Yellowstone grizzly bear last year, the agency turned management of the animals over to Montana, Idaho and Wyoming — the three states in which the animals live. Idaho’s Fish and Game Commission is gathering public comments on a possible hunt. But Montana officials decided to skip this year’s hunting season, citing pending lawsuits claiming that the animals remain threatened.

Mattson and the other researchers who wrote to the governor about the hunt listed several concerns in their letter. Some of the bear’s food, including cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) and whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis), will probably become even scarcer in the future as a result of environmental changes, the researchers say. This will threaten the survival of some bears and push them to hunt livestock or look for food near houses, increasing their run-ins with people, says Mattson. This could lead to a rise in the number of animals killed as a result of these conflicts, which would further shrink the population.

Size matters

Even if the current population estimates are accurate, removing 24 animals through hunting could have detrimental effects, says Andrea Santarsiere, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity who is based in Victor, Idaho. In 2017, 56 bears died in the IGBST monitoring area as a result of natural causes or conflicts with people. “If the same amount dies this year, we could be looking at up to 80 bears removed from the population,” Santarsiere says. “That’s about 10% of the current population.”

And killing females might pose even higher risks to the survival of Yellowstone grizzlies, Santarsiere says. The Wyoming proposal would allow the killing of no more than two females in the area around Yellowstone monitored by the IGBST, but it doesn’t put a cap on the number of females that hunters can take outside this area in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Females can carry up to four cubs at a time, Santarsiere says, “so killing one female could equal removing five bears from the population”.

The USGS’s Van Manen says the hunting proposal won’t pose a risk to the bear population. Only two hunters at a time would be allowed in the monitoring area, and the hunts would stop as soon as two females had been killed in this region, he says.

Wyoming officials seem to be intent on moving forward with this, says Louisa Willcox, a wildlife activist based in Livingston, Montana, who has been in contact with the state’s Game and Fish Department. “It’s extremely unlikely that the scientists’ comments will make them pause.”

Nature 557, 148-149 (2018)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-05061-9

 


 


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“The big challenge is still to deliver emissions reductions at the pace and scale needed, especially in a world where economies are driven by consumption.”

Sonja van Renssen.The inconvenient truth of failed climate policies. Nature Climate Change  MAY 2018

Published online: 27 April 2018 https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-018-0155-4 
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B.C. strengthens grizzly bear hunting ban with new regulations

North Cascades Grizzly Letter

Dear Editor,

Bushwhacking through a trail-less valley in the heart of North Cascades, I came across some enormous tracks and a huge pile of scat that, having not seen their maker, I attributed to either Bigfoot or a grizzly bear. But that was over 35 years ago and I haven’t seen hide nor hair, nor heard of many sightings of either of them since then.

I hate to tell Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, but a “conservation ethic” is something we should have before a species is hunted and trapped practically to extinction and is in need of augmentation—as is the case with Washington’s grizzly bears. Now that would be a real success story. And the few hundred specimens in the Greater Yellowstone area do not add up to a recovered species for the lower 48.

Yet, no sooner did our current Administration remove the imperiled bears from the Threatened Species List did the state of Wyoming set a plan to hunt 24 grizzlies this fall season. Meanwhile, Idaho, with an even lower population of grizzly bears, felt they could sacrifice one to five of them to trophy hunting, if only to get their goose-stepping foot in the door on the issue.

It’s worth noting that B.C. recently banned trophy hunting of grizzlies, and Montana has not yet made plans for a sport hunt on that species. The question for Washington is, which neighbors will we emulate now that the bears have lost their ESA protections?

And what’s next for the Northwest, a trophy hunt on Sasquatch? Believe me, you don’t want that smelly hominid hide hanging on your wall—not if you ever want to have house-guests.

Jim Robertson

 

Will Grizzlies Return To Central Idaho?

 http://www.idahostatesman.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/letters-from-the-west/article204776529.html

March 12, 2018 03:53 PM

Updated March 19, 2018 03:09 PM

Hunting regulations are forcing animals to change in all sorts of ways

We put a lot of pressure on species to adapt.

mama bear with cub

A mama bear with her cub.

Ilpo Kojola

Humans are perhaps the greatest source of evolutionary pressure. Not greatest as in best—we just apply a lot of force.

In just a few thousand years we drastically changed the temperament of dogs by domesticating them, and in a couple hundred managed to diversify them into separate breeds. We’ve done the same to virtually every livestock animal. Yes, we are truly excellent at forcing other species to suit our needs and whims.

But perhaps our greatest work—and again, that’s not meant as a compliment—is how we’ve changed wild animals through hunting. The simple fact is that any time you hunt an animal, especially if you only want a specific subset of the population on your dinner table, you’re applying a selective pressure.

bear family

A happy bear family, protected by law.

Ilpo Kojola

These mothers have fewer offspring on average, because they don’t get pregnant again until their cubs leave. But that cost seems to be outweighed by the survival advantage both cubs and mama bears get by sticking together. Simply having more babies—which would have shortened the reproductive cycle—probably wasn’t as protective, since there’s still a vulnerable period between when cubs wean and when the mama bear can become pregnant again. Having your babies stick with you reduces vulnerable periods, since you get an extra full year of protection.

That’s not to say that all hunting regulations have positive impacts, though. Many have had negative outcomes.

Elephants

Hunting elephants for their tusks—or, more accurately, poaching them—has imposed a powerful selection force against impressive teeth. Once a way to dominate your social group and defend yourself against predators, tusks have become a liability. An animal with less desirable tusks is more likely to avoid poachers and have lots of offspring. As a result, increasing numbers of elephants grow short, stumpy tusks or (in very rare cases) have none at all.

Deer & sheep antlers/horns

Pretty much any animal that has impressive antlers or horns—or any impressive physical feature that we can hang on our walls—is subject to artificial selection. Hunting regulations sometimes prohibit shooting young males who have fewer points on their antlers or underdeveloped horns, so hunters tend to kill the older specimens. But this just selects for deer (or sheep or what-have-you) with smaller headgear. Over time, many deer, antelope, and sheep populations have shifted to have males with less impressive accoutrement.

Elk

Even when we’re not selecting for headgear, we usually select for sex. Human hunters tend to target male animals at much higher rates, which often skews the gender balance of wild populations. This isn’t always a bad thing, especially because many animals are polygynous—one male takes many female mates. But drastic shifts can change the calving season, which in turn can lower offspring body weight and survival rate. If you’re a moose or an elk born too late, you don’t have enough time to eat and grow before the next winter sets in.

Trout & salmon

Speaking of body size, let’s talk about fishing. Even moderate fishing applies selection force. Fishermen and -women generally want to catch the biggest specimens, whether it’s for the profit or just the food, which means we’re systematically killing off the largest fish in any given population. This means that popular fish like trout and salmon are decreasing in size overall, since being smaller gives fish a survival advantage. They’re going to keep shrinking until we stop selecting for the biggest swimmers.

Foxes

One slightly more unusual case: the silver fox. They’re a variant of regular foxes, who mostly have red fur. In the 1800s, as many as 20 percent of foxes in eastern Canada had this silvery sheen. Trappers soon realized they could get three times the price for a silver pelt as they could for the standard red, so they actively sought out the mutants. Even though they only trapped slightly more silver foxes proportionally, by 1930 they had dropped the silver fox population to just 5 percent overall. Now we’re mostly stuck with silver foxes of the human variety.

Human hunting influences adaptation in bear cub parenting

https://phys.org/news/2018-03-human-cub-parenting.htm l

March 27, 2018, Norwegian University of Life Sciences
brown bear
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

The Anthropocene is characterized by human impacts extending to all corners of the globe. New research shows that it effects the relationship between mothers and cubs of the Scandinavian brown bear. Human hunting has changed the characteristics of mother bears’ behavior to their cubs.

“Generally, the cubs have followed their mother for a year and a half,” says Professor Jon Swenson from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU). “Only rarely have we observed them to follow her for two and a half years.”

This has now changed. Today, more cubs stay with their  an additional year, as opposed to 15 to 20 years ago. “Man is now an evolutionary force in the lives of the ,” Swenson says.

The Scandinavian brown bear is one of the world’s most monitored animal populations. Norwegian and Swedish researchers have followed them closely since 1984. “The Scandinavian brown bear project is one of the world’s two longest research projects on bears,” Swenson says, who has been attached to the project almost since its very beginning.

“We have followed over 500 bears, many from birth to death.”

The number of bears shot in Sweden has increased steadily during this period. From 2010 to 2014, Swedish hunters shot about 300 bears each year.

In the vast majority of countries that allow bear hunting, there is a ban on hunting family groups.”A single female in Sweden is four times more likely to be shot as one with a cub,” Swenson says.

As long as a female has cubs, she is safe. This hunting pressure has resulted in a change in the proportion of females that keep their cubs for 1.5 years in relation to those that keep them for 2.5 years. In the period from 2005 to 2015, the number of females keeping their cubs for an additional year has increased from 7% to 36%. The individuals themselves do not alter their strategies. They portray either one behavior or the other, and this trait seems fixed.

“This basically means that we are shooting more of those females that only keep their cubs for a year.”

One compensates for the other

The new female strategy involves both advantages and disadvantages. Females who keep the cubs longer live safer lives, but on the other hand, they reproduce less often. This reduces their total number of offspring throughout their lives.

“In an evolutionary perspective, this would not be beneficial,” Swenson comments. “The animals with the most offspring [are the most successful].”

However, the researchers’ results show that the increased lifespan of the females largely counteracts the reduced birth rate. “This is especially true in areas of high  pressure. There the  that keep their cubs the extra year have the greatest advantage.”

 Explore further: Mama bears use human shields to protect cubs: study

More information: Joanie Van de Walle et al, Hunting regulation favors slow life histories in a large carnivore, Nature Communications (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-03506-3

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-03-human-cub-parenting.html#jCp

VICTORY UPDATE: Shoot Down the Connecticut Bear Trophy Hunt Bill


http://www.all-creatures.org/cash/alerts-20180307.html

March 15, 2018 – 

Connecticut’s black bears are safe thanks to Friends of Animals and our supporters. On Wednesday, a bear trophy hunt bill was shot down by the Environment Committee of the General Assembly 21 to 8.

“FoA is relieved that common sense and truth prevailed among those legislators on the Environment Committee…” said FoA President Priscilla Feral. Thank you to everyone who helped keep CT’s bears safe!

ORIGINAL ALERT:

March 7, 2018

ACTION!

Find and contact your Connecticut state senators and representatives at (860) 240- 0100 or use this ONLINE DIRECTORY to make direct contact and tell them to OPPOSE the CT Bear Trophy Hunt Bill.

AND

Contact the state Environment Committee’s Co-Chair Craig Miner at 860 240-8860 and co-chairs Senator Ted Kennedy and Rep. Mike Demicco and tell them Connecticut won’t tolerate a blood-soaked, shoot-first approach to bear management, especially at a time when gun violence in this country is an epidemic.

This bill would allow black bear hunting in Connecticut for the first time since the 1800s. But what legislators who support the bill, including a committee co-chair with ties to the gun lobby, don’t want you to know is that you should fear hunters, not black bears.

Hunters in CT killed 10 people and injured 114 in hunting accidents between 1982-2016

Number of people killed by bears? Zero.

Supporters of the bill are also trying to manipulate the public and stir up fear in the state. But here’s the real bear facts:

  • Black bears are not overpopulated. Every sighting of a bear doesn’t mean it’s a different bear. There’s just a paltry 200 bears in the Northwest corner, according to a UCONN study and the state has a capacity for about 2,000 bears, according to DEEP’s own reports.
  • Scientific studies show there is actually a weak correlation between the population of bears and bear attacks. Bear-human conflict is more closely correlated with human behavior. Black bears are shy, according to state bear biologists and are habituated into problematic behavior by humans. What DEEP (Department of Energy & ENvironmental Protection) should be telling you is that in March you should bring in your bird feeders, use bear-resistant cans, avoid feeding the bears, clean your outdoor grills, carry bear spray and use bear bells when hiking.
  • No matter how much supporters of the bill and the dwindling hunting markets fear, shooting bears will not teach the ones who aren’t slaughtered not to be opportunistic feeders.
  • DEEP already has a bear management program and last year it only reported 5 nuisance bears.

Don’t let Connecticut’s bears get caught in the cross-fire of NRA interests who are exaggerating numbers to manipulate the public with fear so hunters, who represent just 1 percent of the state’s population, can slaughter bears to use as rugs and mount them.