Bear won’t be put down in Alberta grizzly attack

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The bear was acting in a natural, defensive manner, park officials say

By David Bell, CBC News
< http://www.cbc.ca/news/cbc-news-online-news-staff-list-1.1294364> Posted:
Jul 20, 2016 4:21 PM MT Last Updated: Jul 20, 2016 6:07 PM MT

The actions of a grizzly bear that attacked a couple in the Waiparous area
northwest of Calgary on Tuesday are being considered defensive and the bear
will not be euthanized, according to an investigation into the incident.
James Hayworth and his wife, Laura, were enjoying a beautiful day by the
Ghost River when a mother grizzly charged out of the woods and attacked
them.
“The cubs stumbled upon the man and the woman, and the sow then reacted to
protect her cubs,” said Brendan Cox with Alberta Justice, which oversees the
Fish and Wildlife department.
“So the bears will be left alone. They’re going to be given the space they
need to move on.”
“I thought for sure I’m going to die. I’m dead,” Hayworth told CBC News on
Tuesday.
James was left with scrapes, cuts and bruises while Laura suffered a broken
arm and multiple puncture wounds and was transported to a hospital in
Calgary. She was released on Wednesday.
The area of the attack – from Bar C Ranch west along the TransAlta road to
Banff National Park – will remain closed until further notice.
Cox said Fish and Wildlife officers will be monitoring the situation
closely.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/alberta-grizzly-attack-defensive-1.368
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Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission To Vote On Yellowstone Grizzly Hunting Regulations

Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission To Vote On Yellowstone Grizzly Hunting Regulations

The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet today to decide on potential huntingregulations for Yellowstone area grizzly bears.

The vote comes as state wildlife agencies draft management plans ahead of a planned proposal to delist Yellowstone grizzly bears from the Endangered Species List.

According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, besides hunting regulations, the commission will vote on a three-state agreement to establish guidelines for divvying up bears in the Greater Yellowstone Area.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced earlier this year they hope to delist Yellowstone grizzlies from the Endangered Species List by early next year. Each Yellowstone state must draft a plan regardless of whether grizzlies are delisted or not. Under the agreement, hunting would only occur if the USFWS successfully makes its case for delisting. Wyoming Game and Fish approved their grizzly plan just yesterday.

Grizzlies were previously delisted in 2007 but reinstated several years later after a federal judge ruled (in a case brought against the USFWS by environmental advocates) that the agency had failed to consider the impacts of climate change on the bears’ long term survival. From the Chronicle:

Opponents of delisting dispute the notion that Yellowstone’s grizzly bears are thriving and say that allowing hunting could send the population into a decline. Some have also called for a buffer zone between hunting districts and Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.

USFWS’ delisting proposal includes a limit on the number of bears allowed to be killed within a 19,279-square-mile area that includes Yellowstone National Park and parts of Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. The limits are population based, and would rule out any discretionary kills if the population dips below 600.

The USFWS is expected to make a final decision on lifting protections for the bears next year but is requiring that all three states draft hunting rules before that happens. Idaho and Wyoming have both unveiled their plans.

Montana’s proposal would create seven hunting districts near the borders of Yellowstone National Park from Interstate 15 east to the border of the Crow Indian Reservation. It includes measures meant to protect females and young bears from being taken by hunters, like banning the shooting of bears in groups.

Quotas based on what share of the allowed mortality Montana gets would also be implemented. Under the three state agreement, Wyoming would get 58 percent of the harvest, Idaho 8 percent and Montana 34 percent.

FWP representatives have said that even in the event of a hunting season, the quota would be consistently low —fewer than ten, sometimes zero if the population hews closer to 600.

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British Columbia source of ‘vast majority’ of bear trophies


A grizzly bear is photographed in the Orford River, in British Columbia, in this 2011 file photo. (JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
A grizzly bear is photographed in the Orford River, in British Columbia, in this 2011 file photo. (JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

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More than 300 shipments of grizzly bear products – including skins, skulls and rugs – have moved from Canada to the United States through U.S. ports over the past three years.

Those transactions are among nearly 17,000 imports of North American bear parts – mostly black and brown, but including grizzlies – from Canada to the United States over the same period, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Most common grizzly bear parts imported into the U.S. from Canada, 2013-2015

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THE GLOBE AND MAIL » SOURCE: U.S. Fish and wildlife service
data
share
×
Part Number
Skin 127
Skull 122
Trophy 78
Rug 13
Bones 2

Most common grizzly bear parts imported into the U.S. from Canada, 2013-2015

The United States has no restrictions on the legal import of grizzly bear parts and products. The European Union, however, suspended imports of grizzly hunting trophies from British Columbia in 2004 over conservation concerns.

The shipments reflect a key factor in British Columbia’s controversial grizzly hunt – American trophy hunters, who pay thousands of dollars to come to the province to hunt a species protected in parts of the United States.

Faisal Moola, director-general for Ontario and Northern Canada with the David Suzuki Foundation, estimates “the vast majority” of grizzly imports to the United States over the past three years came from B.C., based on previous research he conducted and export data he recently obtained from the provincial government.

“About 40 per cent of grizzly bears being killed in B.C. are being killed by foreign trophy hunters,” Dr. Moola said.

“The reason Americans are coming to Canada to shoot grizzly bears in B.C. is because there are no more grizzly bears in places like Washington State or California – or they are legally protected and you can’t shoot them, in places like Montana or Wyoming,” he added.

According to B.C. government figures, 29 per cent of bears were killed by “non-resident” hunters – those who don’t live in British Columbia and must enter a lottery to win the right to hunt a grizzly – in 2013. The rate was 38 per cent in 2014 and 29 per cent last year.

The average number of grizzly bears killed in each of the last three years, province-wide, was 242, with the majority of those killed by B.C. residents.

According to documents obtained through a freedom of information request from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, thousands of bear products – sorted into three-letter categories that include TRO, or trophy, which means “all the parts of one animal,” and SKU, for skull – have been shipped to the United States through dozens of ports since the beginning of 2013.

The U.S. import data obtained by The Globe and Mail do not distinguish between bears killed in recent hunting seasons and trophies that may be years or even decades old. The data also do not say whether the imports came from British Columbia or elsewhere in Canada, including Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, which also have legal grizzly hunts. (Alberta suspended its hunt in 2006.)

British Columbia’s grizzly hunt draws impassioned debate. Opponents decry the killing of animals for sport. Supporters maintain that a regulated grizzly hunt can help protect stocks of other animals, such as moose and caribou, while generating significant economic benefits.

There is also debate over whether British Columbia’s hunting regulations, which keep about 35 per cent of the province off-limits to grizzly hunting, do enough to protect grizzly bears.

Both the provincial government, which oversees the grizzly hunt, and an industry group that represents guide outfitters who depend on the hunt for part of their livelihoods say the number of bears “harvested” do not pose a conservation concern.

“Research completed by highly qualified experts over the past 20 years has consistently indicated that there are between 14,000 and 16,000 grizzly bears in B.C.,” the Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia said in an April statement about the hunt. “Hunters only take 250 to 350 bears per year – a sustainable level that poses no conservation threat, especially considering that harvest is heavily biased towards mature males.”

Regulations prohibit hunters from killing bears that are less than two years old.

Conservation groups, including the Suzuki Foundation, challenge those claims, maintaining that the hunt is unsustainable and aggravates threats to grizzlies from other factors, including habitat loss.

Hunt opponents also worry that bears killed in British Columbia could be from threatened grizzly populations – either from parts of the province where hunting is restricted because of conservation concerns, or from Alaska or other states where some grizzly populations have been deemed at risk.

Grizzlies are not officially “endangered.” The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, or COSEWIC, lists grizzly bears as a species of “special concern” – one that may become threatened or endangered. Grizzly bears are also listed in Appendix II of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora, as a species that is “not necessarily now threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in March proposed “delisting” grizzly bears from the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem – which would open the door to a grizzly hunt in the area, although not in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks – after conservation measures resulted in bear numbers rebounding from as few as 136 in 1975 to about 700.

A comment period that closed in May resulted in more than 100,000 submissions, both for and against the proposal.

Pipeline leak fouls creek near grizzly management area in northwestern Alberta

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http://www.metronews.ca/news/canada/2016/06/14/pipeline-leak-fouls-creek-near-grizzly-protection-area-in-northwestern-alberta.html

 

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CALGARY — A pipeline leak has spilled an estimated 380,000 litres of light petroleum within five kilometres of a provincially designated grizzly bear management zone in northwestern Alberta, and an undetermined amount of it has reached a nearby creek.

Producer ConocoPhillips Canada said in a statement posted on its website Tuesday that the leak of condensate, a liquid produced with natural gas, was seen at a pipeline right-of-way near its Resthaven gas plant about 65 kilometres northeast of Grande Cache last Thursday afternoon.

It said its staff also observed condensate in nearby Webb Creek.

The Alberta Energy Regulator said condensate was visible as a sheen on the surface of the creek for about 4.5 kilometres below the pipeline leak.

The creek flows to a beaver dam and then into the Simonette River. While no sheen was visible on the river, an analysis indicated hydrocarbons present at slightly above minimum detection limits, the provincial agency said.

The AER said it was the largest hydrocarbon leak from a pipeline since Nexen, a subsidiary of China’s CNOOC Ltd., spilled five million litres of bitumen emulsion in July 2015.

Meanwhile, the company said the pipeline, which along with the gas plant is jointly owned  by ConocoPhillips and Calgary producer Paramount Resources (TSX:POU), has been shut down and isolated and the company has activated its emergency response plan.

“We have deployed over 150 responders to the site with equipment to contain the release and mitigate any environmental impact,” the company said, adding that it had reported the leak to the regulator after discovering it last Thursday.

Fencing and amphibian barriers have been erected to keep wildlife away and a wildlife biologist is on site, it said.

Spokeswoman Michelle McCullagh defended the five-day lag between discovering the leak and beginning what it promises will be daily updates on its website.

“Our first priority was making sure there were no residents in the area, notifying the trappers, the First Nations and all the authorities and then, of course, our continued safety for all of our responders on site and then protecting the environment,” she said.

No residents were found in the isolated area and the company has seen no evidence of animals or fish hurt by the spill as yet, McCullagh said, adding that the company doesn’t know how long it will take to clean up the spill.

The gas plant is still operating, she said.

Mike Hudema of Greenpeace Canada described the number of pipeline spills in Alberta as “alarming.”

“While we learn the details of this latest incident we need to ask ourselves how many more spills will it take before we begin to move away from pipelines and make the renewable energy transition other countries are already implementing,” he said in a email.

The regulator said in a statement Tuesday that staff members were at the site, which is in the Little Smoky caribou range and near a core grizzly bear management zone.

It said it has issued an environmental protection order to ConocoPhillips directing the company to contain the release and prevent it from spreading, while controlling access, collecting water and soil samples and submitting a final report to the AER.

The regulator said no cause has been established and an investigation is underway.

One of the key uses of condensate is to dilute raw Alberta oilsands crude to allow it to flow in a pipeline to market.

 

Trophy hunting of grizzly bears to continue in British Columbia

A grizzly bear is photographed in the Orford River, in British Columbia, in this 2011 file photo. (JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)A grizzly bear is photographed in the Orford River, in British Columbia, in this 2011 file photo. (JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

British Columbia is cracking down on the use of sheep and goats as pack animals for big game hunters in its latest set of hunting and trapping regulations. But the contentious trophy hunting of grizzly bears will continue unchanged.

The provincial ministry responsible for hunting produced updated regulations on Monday, and although it has rejected a proposal to increase the number of grizzly hunting permits for resident hunters in the Peace River region, environmentalists are disappointed that the status quo remains in place.

The major changes include additional record-keeping requirements for butchers, and a new ban on bringing domesticated sheep or goats along on big game hunts to act as beasts of burden because of fears that the animals may pass on disease to wildlife. The report did not say whether this was a common practice. Steve Thomson, the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, says in the report released Monday his major concern in wildlife management right now is around the declining moose population, and he promised a new BC Moose Tracker app that will allow people to record moose sightings.

Mr. Thomson could not be reached for comment, but in a statement, ministry officials maintained that the current grizzly bear hunt is sustainable.

Auditor-General Carol Bellringer has announced she will conduct a performance audit to determine whether the province is effectively managing the grizzly bear population . The province says there are 15,000 grizzlies in B.C. and that hunting is allowed only after conservation targets and aboriginal harvests for food, social and ceremonial uses are met.

Ms. Bellringer’s report is not expected until next spring, and Ian McAllister, executive director of Pacific Wild, an environmental organization, said that means the B.C. Liberal government’s current approach won’t be effectively challenged until the May, 2017, provincial election.

“This institutionalizes the trophy hunt in wildlife practices,” Mr. McAllister said. “It’s an indication of what Premier Christy Clark is thinking about this file and that is almost inconceivable given the unprecedented input over the past year.”

Pacific Wild has led opposition to the grizzly bear hunt, particularly in the newly proclaimed Great Bear Rainforest. Mr. McAllister says the Coastal First Nations, along with a large majority of British Columbians, are opposed to trophy hunting of grizzlies. (Polls suggest anywhere between 88 and 95 per cent of British Columbians are against trophy hunting.)

The provincial government has been reluctant to curtail the hunt, however, saying it is confident in the science behind its quotas. As well, the province maintains that hunting in general is good for the economy: The province is home to 100,000 resident hunters who, along with guide outfitters, put $350-million into the economy each year by the province’s reckoning.

Mr. McAllister said he is hopeful the Auditor-General will agree that the province is not adequately managing the population of grizzly bears. He said the timing of her report at least will help raise the profile of the issue in next year’s provincial election.

“It will be a high-profile issue in the run-up to the next election.”

However, it is not clear the New Democratic Party will offer an alternative position. The party has said it is still consulting before deciding whether it would promise to restore the moratorium on trophy hunting that it put in place in 2001, when it last help power.

The lone Green Party MLA in B.C., Andrew Weaver, last year introduced a bill to ban the trophy killing of grizzly bears. That bill would treat grizzlies the same as black bears, so hunters would be required to harvest edible portions of a bear.

Wolf and Bear

from Defenders of Wildlife:

It’s supposedly an energy bill, but the “North American Energy Infrastructure Act of 2016” contains a lethal dose of anti-wildlife amendments that will lead to dead wolves, dead bears and the destruction of many important wildlife protections.

And while the pro-oil, pro-coal, climate change-denying provisions of the bill are despicable, the anti-wildlife measures are equally catastrophic.

Tell your senators to oppose this bill’s wide array of anti-wildlife provisions.

This bill has incorporated the so-called “Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Opportunity Act,” with all of its horrific attacks on wildlife and public lands that we have spoken about before.

The deadly wildlife provisions include:

  • Forced delisting of Wyoming and Great Lakes gray wolves – you might recall that before the federal courts reversed a premature delisting of Wyoming wolves, over 85 percent of the state had been declared a “predator zone,” where anyone could kill a wolf, at any time and for any reason;
  • Gun lobby-endorsed language that would hasten the extinction of African elephants by hindering U.S. efforts to crack down on the illegal ivory trade;
  • Provisions that would allow the most extreme forms of wolf and bear hunting on over 100 million acres of federally-protected wildlife habitat in Alaska, including baiting, snaring and killing mothers and young; and
  • Language that would severely undermine wildlife safeguards and encourage increased logging in the national forests that millions of creatures rely on for survival.

The anti-wildlife forces just won’t give up. It’s up to you and me to stop them.

Tell your senators to protect wildlife by opposing this harmful House Energy Bill!

Thanks for your tireless help on behalf of the wildlife we love.

Jane Goodall Among 58 Scientists Urging Government to Halt Grizzly De-Listing

http://ecowatch.com/2016/05/06/jane-goodall-grizzly-de-listing/

| May 6, 2016

Dr. Jane Goodall is one of 58 prominent scientists and experts who have signed a letter asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to retain Endangered Species Act protections for Yellowstone-area grizzly bears.

Incidentally, their letter was released around the same time that Montana wildlife officials announced draft grizzly hunting regulations that, once approved, would offer $50 permits to local residents and $1,000 permits for out-of-state hunters to shoot the bears, The Guardian reported. The state’s grizzly hunting plan would be implemented if the bears are taken off the federal endangered species list.

USFWS has proposed de-listing the Yellowstone grizzlies, saying that their numbers have recovered to a point where federal protection is no longer needed.

However, opponents argue that the iconic animals are not ready for de-listing because climate change and other human-caused factors have threatened their food sources. The letter states:

Grizzly bears face multiple threats to persistence including the loss of their primary food resources. Currently, whitebark pine seeds, native cutthroat trout, huckleberries, army cutworm moths, elk and bison are either declining and/or are expected to decline in the foreseeable future as a result of habitat loss, climate change, drought, invasive species and other anthropogenic causes.

Goodall recently delivered a recorded video message to the House Natural Resources Committee in Washington DC to urge protection for the grizzlies, which were put on the endangered species list in 1975.

“Forty years ago when the grizzlies at the Yellowstone ecosystem numbered less than 150 individuals and their survival seemed precarious, it was thanks to protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1975 that their number today has risen slowly to around 700,” the renowned primatologist and conservationist said.

“But their future isn’t secure yet because they face so many threats to survival. Two of their four major foods have all but been wiped out due to climate change, disease and invasive species. And they may be killed if they prey on livestock in their increasingly difficult search for food.”

Wildlife biologist David J. Mattson, who also signed the letter, explained to NPR that the plight of the whitebark pine trees is at the center of the Yellowstone grizzly fight. The seeds from the tree are a major source of food for the grizzlies but climate change is wiping out the trees.

Mattson told NPR that climate change has also forced the bears to roam further away from protected areas in search of food thus increases the risk of bear encounters with ranchers and big-game hunters.

In March, USFWS director Dan Ashe announced the “historic success” of the recovering Yellowstone grizzly bear population. However, because of this “success,” this means that if grizzly bears that wander outside of their protected areas, they could be legally hunted if they are de-listed.

“If the grizzlies are de-listed and the state opens a hunting season, ‘399’ [a beloved mother grizzly living in Grand Teton National Park] might be shot by a trophy hunter so that her head can be mounted on a wall, her skin laid on the floor for human feet to trample,” as Goodall lamented in her video message. “I think many hearts would break. I know mine would.”

According to The Guardian, “officials in the three states that surround Yellowstone—Wyoming, Idaho and Montana—have insisted the re-opening of hunting after 40 years won’t harm the grizzly population.”

Care2 noted that UFWS tried to de-list grizzly bears in 2007 but environmental groups sued. In 2009, a federal judge in Montana ruled that Yellowstone grizzly bears should continue to be protected because not only were the safeguards promised by the USFWS unenforceable, but due to climate change, bears were losing a major part of their diet due to whitebark pine trees dying off.

The USFWS is taking public comment until May 10 on whether to de-list Yellowstone-area grizzlies.

Death at Yellowstone: Feds probe shooting of ‘Scarface,’ the park’s most famed grizzly

The Washington Post
Karin Brulliard

 

There are more than 750 grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park, but none as famed as a brawny, cocoa-colored male dubbed No. 211.

He was best known by his nickname, which was inspired by his fight-maimed face and damaged right ear: Scarface. He roamed far, wide and often within sight of delighted tourists and their cameras. He was captured, collared and released by biologists 17 times, making him “one of the most studied bears,” in the region, according to the Associated Press.

By last fall, those scientists were warning that Scarface might not make it through the winter: He’d dropped from a peak of 600 pounds to 338 pounds. At 25 years old, he was elderly.

[Cubs of a euthanized grizzly that killed a Yellowstone hiker will get a new home]

They were right that his time was short. But Scarface didn’t die of natural causes. Last week, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks department released a statement that said No. 211 had been fatally shot in November near Gardiner, Mont., just outside Yellowstone’s northern edge.

FILE - In this Oct. 2005, file photo provided by Ray Paunovich shows a well-known Yellowstone National Park grizzly bear known as "Scarface." Montana wildlife officials have confirmed that the grizzly bear was shot and killed during a confrontation with a hunter north of Gardiner last fall.© Ray Paunovich via AP, File FILE – In this Oct. 2005, file photo provided by Ray Paunovich shows a well-known Yellowstone National Park grizzly bear known as “Scarface.” Montana wildlife officials have…

The bear’s death is now under investigation by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, because grizzly bears are protected under the Endangered Species Act, and most killings not carried out in self-defense are illegal. The Montana state agency offered no details about the the killing or why it was not announced sooner, and a Fish and Wildlife representative contacted by the Washington Post declined to comment.

The killing of the famous bear is sure to fuel opposition to recent Fish and Wildlife proposal to remove federal protections for grizzly bears in the so-called Greater Yellowstone Area, which could lead Montana, Idaho and Wyoming to approve their hunting. Grizzlies were declared threatened in the 1970s, when hunting, trapping and other issues caused their population to decline to less than 150.

Federal officials say the bears’ population has recovered, but many conservation and wildlife organizations are fighting the proposal. The Sierra Club, for example, has said “bears’ naturally slow reproductive rate, loss of key food sources to climate change, and state plans to reduce numbers through methods like trophy hunts, all spell disaster.”

[These undercover robot animals are helping in the hunt for poachers]

Scarface’s killing is being widely mourned among those familiar with the bear, who’d earned a reputation as an unflappable “king of the woods,” in the words of Kerry Gunther, Yellowstone’s bear management program leader, who spoke to the AP shortly before the bear’s death.

 

Scarface was first captured in 1993, when he was a “sub-adult” bear weighing 150 pounds. At his peak, the bruin tipped the scales at about 600 pounds, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. But he’d grown emaciated in recent years, the agency said, noting that less than 5 percent of male grizzlies live to the age of 25.

Scarface owed much of his fame to the scuffles with other bears over females, carcasses and dominance that had made his face so recognizable, and that had so destroyed his right ear that it flopped over. Photographers, in particular, have sung his praises — and, in recent days, angrily mourned his loss.

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“I’ve seen him almost kill a black bear for getting too close to his carcass in Antelope Valley and I’ve seen him barely bat an eyelash at people who find themselves far too close,” nature photographer Simon Jackson of Ghost Bear Photography wrote on his blog two years ago, adding that he’d seen the bear 20 times over the years. “There is no one animal that has inspired me like Scarface nor any animal that has played such a profound role in defining the person I’ve become.”

Last week, as news of the bear’s death spread, Jackson’s blog published another post. “Our emotions alternate between shock, sadness, anger and a profound sense of loss,” Jackson and fellow photographer Jill Cooper wrote, urging people to campaign against the proposal to de-list the grizzly bear. “Nothing will bring back our beloved Scarface, but we can still do right by the many bears he fathered and all of the bears that shared the landscape he once roamed.”

Sandy Sisti, a wildlife photographer who blogs at Wild at Heart Images, once wrote a paean about seeing “Yellowstone’s Grand Old Man” in all corners of the park and watching as he grew more scarred over the years.

More: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/death-at-yellowstone-feds-probe-shooting-of-%e2%80%98scarface%e2%80%99-the-park%e2%80%99s-most-famed-grizzly/ar-BBsxLOg?ocid=spartandhp

 

 

Groups sue to halt hunting at Grand Teton

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Environmental groups filed a pair of federal lawsuits on Wednesday to stop hunting that is now allowed on hundreds of acres within Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and has claimed three bison.

The National Parks Conservation Association and Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife and Wyoming Wildlife Advocates claimed in the lawsuits other species could be hunted.

Hunting generally isn’t allowed in national parks, though Grand Teton for decades has hosted an annual elk hunt in coordination with state wildlife officials.

The hunt — formally known as an elk reduction program — was part of a state-federal compromise that enabled the park to be established in its current boundaries in 1950.

A 2014 agreement between Grand Teton and Wyoming Game and Fish Department officials improperly allows hunting dozens of species on private and state land within Grand Teton, the groups claim.

The groups worry that grizzly bears and wolves could soon be targeted by hunters if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife succeeds in removing the animals from federal protection as threatened and endangered species.

“For more than 65 years, the National Park Service rightfully and lawfully exercised authority to protect all park wildlife,” said Sharon Mader, Grand Teton program manager for the NPCA. “It should continue to do so moving forward.”

Interior Department spokeswoman Jessica Kershaw declined to comment, citing agency policy on pending litigation.

The lawsuits involve dozens of parcels of state and private land called inholdings located within the park. National park land completely surrounds most inholdings, which total well under 1 percent of Grand Teton’s 485 square miles.

Significant inholdings include two state parcels, each measuring a square mile, and a pair of relatively small ranches of 450 and 120 acres.

National Park Service and state officials began discussing whether federal or state laws would be enforced on Grand Teton inholdings after a wolf was shot on a private inholding in the park in 2014.

Federal prosecutors declined to charge the shooter, finding that park officials had erred in determining that federal wildlife law for national parks took precedence on the private land.

Park officials agreed later that year that state law would take precedence on all inholdings. The four environmental groups are contesting that agreement with the lawsuits.

“Wildlife obviously don’t pay attention to title records and move around on all of those parcels,” said Tim Preso, an Earthjustice attorney representing Defenders of Wildlife and Wyoming Wildlife Advocates. “You cannot maintain the park, the integrity of the park as a preserve for wildlife protection, when you have these islands where wildlife can be killed.”

The number of Grand Teton inholdings dwindled after decades of buyouts by the National Park Service. Wyoming officials have been trying for years, with limited success, to get the Interior Department to acquire all remaining state inholdings.

The last two inholdings, together worth perhaps $100 million, command prime views of the Teton Range. In 2010, Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal threatened to sell to the highest bidder if the federal government didn’t get serious about taking them off the state’s hands.

Recent negotiations between state and federal officials have focused on possibly trading the sections for federal land and mineral rights elsewhere in Wyoming

Yellowstone Grizzlies by the Numbers

Yellowstone Grizzly Bears By the Numbers

The grizzly bears that inhabit the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem have played an important role in one of the nation’s greatest endangered species success stories. Since 1975, the bears have been beneficiaries of the Endangered Species Act that enabled the grizzly population to beat all odds after teetering on the brink of extinction. It grew from 136 bears in 1975 to around 700 in 2016, although estimates range from 674 to 839.

On March 3, 2016, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service announced its proposal to delist the Yellowstone area grizzlies, which includes Grizzly 399, from the federal threatened species list. It is expected to make a final decision by the end of 2016.

The Numbers

50,000
The number of grizzly bears that roamed between the Pacific Ocean and the Great Plains during Lewis and Clark Expedition, 200 years ago.

674-839
The approximate number of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem according to the National Park Service in 2016. No one knows the exact number.

150
The number of grizzlies that live within the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park in 2016.

More than 524
Of Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzlies live outside Yellowstone National Park.

22,500 square miles
Is the range of the Yellowstone area grizzly bears, which has doubled since 1975 – that’s an area larger than Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire combined.

37
Grizzly bear populations were present in the lower 48 states in 1922.

31
Grizzly bear populations were extirpated by 1975.

136
Grizzlies lived in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in 1975.

10
is number of years it takes a female grizzly to replace herself in the population.

1,000
Grizzly bears live in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, which stretches from Kalispell, Mont., all the way up into Canada and includes Glacier National Park.

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