The Man Who Befriended Bears

(RYAN PERUNIAK)

Charlie Russell loved to fly, and he seldom phoned first those times when he would fly his Kolb ultralight airplane north from Hawk’s Nest ranch on the boundary of Waterton Lakes National Park, to our “ranchette” near the Crowsnest Pass. We would hear the thrum of the plane’s Rotax motor bouncing off the nearby Livingstone Range, then the tiny white two-seater, looking like a giant lawn dart, grew suddenly loud as he buzzed the place, wagging his wings close enough for us to see his snaggle-toothed grin. Our horses would tear down the field, eyes rolling from his low approach. He would circle over the road, then sail in under the Fortis power line, set the plane down on the gravel and taxi up to our cattle guard. Then he’d get out, grab a length of rope from the cockpit and tie off the plane to a fence post with a cowboy slip knot so the wind couldn’t blow it over. He had long promised to take my wife Myrna for a ride, and one day she called him on it. “Well, I guess today’s the day then,” he grinned. I didn’t like the look of the clouds over Centre Peak, but Myrna’s face said, “You don’t get a vote.”

“Just tell me that you don’t have a halibut jig tied to the tail wheel this time.”

“What’s he talking about?” Myrna demanded.

“Ha!” laughed Charlie. “He’ll tell you later.”

Charlie Russell died on May 7 in Calgary due to complications following a five-hour surgical procedure. Charlie used up his nine lives long ago, but his death at 76 was still shocking to those who knew him well. Few people have lived as intensely as this man, or as dangerously. He has flown in some of the worst conditions on earth and walked or crawled (with a broken back one time) away from both a hang-glider and an ultra-light crash, and over time he prevailed in a number of forced landings. He is, he was, internationally famous for the ground-breaking work he and the artist Maureen Enns did at Kambalnoye Lake, Kamchatka, in Russia, living in close proximity with brown bears and raising orphaned cubs which not only survived the wilds but eventually reproduced. A mentor to many naturalists, his experiments in “exploring the possibilities of trust” challenged the prevalent orthodoxy of his day, which held that bears that have no fear of humans are always extremely dangerous, and that all bears are unpredictable and therefore always a threat to humans. Yet he was wise enough to know that what he learned working with those wild bears in BC and Kamchatka, in true wilderness settings, should not be applied by the layman to human-influenced bears in our southern national parks.

Charlie was raised in bear country and learned all the skills of mountain bush craft and horsemanship guiding hunters on his father’s pack-train. In 1960 Charlie and his brother Dick roughed it through Canada and Alaska to help Andy Russell make his groundbreaking film Grizzly Country. After studying photography in New York, and a stint living in New Zealand with his first wife, Margaret, Charlie took up ranching at Hawk’s Nest, his family home. But his heart wasn’t in it and he spent a lot of his time working on conservation projects, such as the Waterton Biosphere Reserve initiative. Many bears were dying at the hands of ranchers and hunters in southwest Alberta at that time. This bear of a man, Russell, was angered by the carnage, for as he often growled, “Anything that hurts the bears, hurts me.” He became the first Canadian rancher to deliberately move cattle carcasses to safe places on his ranch near the park boundary, so that bears could feed on them without being shot.

Eventually Charlie gave up on ranching, and in the 1990s he took a job guiding tourists on grizzly-bear-watching tours in the Khutzeymateen inlet of BC. Charlie’s superb talent at reading ursine body language, and his sensitive, ego-free approach to all wildlife, allowed for close encounters of the ursine kind. Myrna and I are two of the many people that have sat with him on a big driftwood log at the water’s edge as a female grizzly grazed on sedges at our feet, unafraid of us, and offering no threat to us. As a former park warden, I helped to capture many bears, but I never felt as reassured around them as I felt in Charlie’s company. His skill as a bear guide led to an offer in 1991 to work with filmmakers Jeff and Sue Turner of Princeton, BC. With Charlie’s help, they shot a famous BBC documentary on the Kermode “Spirit Bears” of Princess Royal Island. Charlie worked on documentaries, wrote books, collaborated with conservation groups and biologists and helped shape public opinion to push for a grizzly sanctuary in both the Khutzeymateen and Kamchatka and a protected area for Kermode bears on Princess Royal Island.

In 1993 the Turners’ plan called for Charlie to provide and pilot an ultralight plane, capable of water landings, to be used as an aerial camera platform. Charlie and his late son Anthony Russell began building the plane at Hawk’s Nest—all over Hawk’s Nest, since he didn’t have a big enough barn for the project. Every building on the place had a piece of the plane in it and Charlie was getting increasingly frantic to get the thing riveted together as a deadline for departure for the island loomed. On a snowy March day, I joined filmmaker Jeff Turner to help Charlie with some last-minute detailing. We worked all day; darkness found us riveting the cockpit canopy carefully onto thin steel tubing. I suddenly stubbed my toe on a snow-covered object. “Shit! What’s this thing, Charlie?” Charlie peered down at it for a second, distracted, bent down and swept the snow off it with his boot. “It’s just the in-flight computer.”

“Oh, is that all it is? Wow. I thought I had stepped on something important.”

I worried about that computer later that spring, when Canadian Geographiccommissioned me to write a feature article on the Kermode bears with Charlie to supply the photos. As a result I spent about four weeks that summer and fall on the island, hosted by the Turners at their camp. One did not just swan around taking notes with the hard-working Turners, and I soon found myself humping camera gear through the rainforest with Charlie. The white bears were living up to their reputation as ghosts of the rainforest, staying out of sight and waiting for the coho to run. Charlie had already befriended both black and white bears he encountered in the bush, and could identify individuals by size, shape and colouration. One day, we were sitting on a log taking a break while a black bear fished in a desultory manner nearby. The rains, and the main run of salmon that rain would trigger, had not yet begun. Charlie grinned at me, ran his fingers through his thick black hair, then leaned over in a bear-like manner and stirred the water with a calloused paw, peering  intently into the stream. The black bear splashed over and took up a position next to him almost touching his shoulder. I froze, too startled to get my little Balda camera out of my pack. The bear peered intently into the water, and then, realizing there was no fish in sight, backed away slowly, giving Charlie a sidelong glance. His body language said, “Dude—that is not funny.”

We were working one day in a creekbed, picking our way among slimy boulders and fish guts, stringing up a thousand feet of climbing rope between fir trees for an overhead camera sequence. Charlie pointed out a giant flat topped boulder in midstream. “I was playing with a bear on that rock one day, and things got out of hand.”

“Playing?”

“Yeah. I was up there taking a break, and he came down the bank, spotted me, and came up to visit.”

“To visit?”

“Yeah. I’ve come to know him pretty well. I could tell he was feeling playful. He was really inviting me to wrestle. I wasn’t sure if I should, but he was so friendly. Anyway, he stood up. He had a really mischievous gleam in his eye, and I thought what the heck. So I got ready to grapple with him. God, they are so strong! He just knocked me right over. I landed on those boulders.”

“Jesus Christ!”

“Yeah. I could tell he was surprised. I looked up, and he was peering down at me. I think it really puzzled him, how weak humans are. He didn’t mean to hurt me. I was really banged up for a while there.”

“Jesus H. Christ on a crutch. You were playing King-of-the-Castle with a bear?”

“Yeah. I think I went a bit too far that time,” he added, sheepishly.

Those who know Charlie’s books might say he should have known better. He had wrestled with a bear before, in Waterton Park in the ’80s when he and his son, Anthony, then age 11, wandered in between a black bear sow and her cubs. The little sow attacked, and Charlie and Anthony were soon in a tag team bout with her. She knocked Anthony down and Charlie went after her with fists and boots. When she got on top of Charlie, Anthony, armed with a piece of elk antler he had found earlier, whacked her over the head. She then bit Anthony on the behind, and Charlie again attacked until the sow finally retreated. The sow was fine, and the humans escaped with bruises and puncture wounds, but Charlie always said that Anthony had saved his life that day.

As a former park warden I helped capture many bears, but I never felt as reassured around them as I felt in Charlie’s company.

But about that halibut jig. We were sitting in the cook tent over coffee one morning with Sue, Jeff and their daughter Chelsea, when Charlie popped the question I had been dreading. “Will you fly with me?”

Charlie knew I hated flying. I nearly choked on the coffee, set the cup down. “I’d be happy to,” I lied.

The two us, both heavyweights, climbed into the little plane and strapped in, while Jeff Turner pushed us away from the pier. We had a windscreen in front of us, but were otherwise open to the weather. The motor sits behind the passengers on this craft. There was no intercom, so once the motor started conversation was by sign language. We taxied down the inlet and I could see why it was going to be hard to keep this plane aloft just by force of my willpower alone, since there were no armrests to grip in white-knuckled fear while will-powering. Charlie punched me in the shoulder, a big grin on his face, and opened the throttle as we raced down the inlet. This is a short takeoff plane, but our run seemed to go on forever, and we did not lift off the water. Frowning, he slowed down and we taxied back to try it again. I can’t recall how many times we attempted take-off; it seemed like 10 but was probably only three. At last we returned to the pier, the motor idling. “Well, I guess it’s just not in the cards today,” I said, happily.

“No problem,” said Charlie. “I know what we need. Just stay in the plane while I get it.”

He hurried up the beach to camp, and soon returned with his fishing tackle box in one paw. As I watched, puzzled, he pulled out a lead halibut jig with its attached hook, and tied it to the tail-wheel with some fishing line. “We’ve got it now,” he said with a happy grin as he settled back behind the controls.

“We’ve got it? Are we trolling for halibut now?” I asked, mystified.

“Ha! We’re going to catch some air.”

Once more we hurtled down the inlet, two porkers making the ultralight nose heavy. But this time, the halibut jig was just enough tail weight (at 17.6 ounces) to pull the tail down allowing the wings to catch some lift. And we flew around and around up above Princess Royal Island and Laredo Inlet looking for white Kermodes, and scared the hell out of some tourists in a yacht in an 80-mph swoop. And except one time when I took a ride in a sailplane, I felt about as close to being an eagle, and like an eagle, oblivious to fear, as I have ever been.

In Kamchatka Charlie learned how to find a hole in the fog and spiral his plane up into the clear sky. He made many personal sacrifices in choosing to devote his life to finding a way through the foggy notions people have about bears and our relationship to nature. The best way to honour Charlie is to make some new holes in the fog of misunderstanding that keeps people from living at peace with nature, and therefore with ourselves.

This article was originally published in The Tyee, June 1, 2018. Sid Marty is a writer and long-time resident of southern Alberta. He has published five books of non-fiction and three of poetry. His Leaning on the Wind: Under the Spell of the Great Chinook andThe Black Grizzly of Whiskey Creek were finalists for Governor General’s Awards.

Pt. 2: https://albertaviews.ca/part-2-tribute-charlie-russell/?fbclid=IwAR1LNBXAWPNf3NDVk30jyuBCv3QgJUyh9N3O88T1ejmWHyGATKchaCFKYZo

Trump administration appeals ruling that blocked grizzly bear hunts around Yellowstone

When the ruling came down in October, Wyoming and Idaho were on the cusp of hosting the first, public grizzly bear hunts in the Lower 48 U.S. states since 1991.
Image: Grizzly bear

A grizzly bear cub searches for fallen fruit beneath an apple tree a few miles from the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park in Gardiner, Montana on Sept. 25, 2013.Alan Rogers / The Casper Star-Tribune via AP

By Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. — U.S. government attorneys filed notice Friday that they are appealing a court ruling that blocked the first public hunts of grizzly bears in the Northern Rockies in decades.

The appeal challenges a judge’s ruling that restored threatened species protections for more than 700 bears in and around Yellowstone National Park.

Protections for the animals had been removed in 2017. When the ruling from U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen came down in October, Wyoming and Idaho were on the cusp of hosting their first public hunts for grizzly bears in the Lower 48 U.S. states since 1991.

Federal biologists contend Yellowstone-area grizzlies have made a full recovery after a decades-long restoration effort. They want to turn over management of the animals to state wildlife agencies that say hunting is one way to better address rising numbers of bear attacks on livestock.

But wildlife advocates and the Crow Indian Tribe successfully sued to stop the hunts. Their attorneys persuaded Christensen that despite the recovery of bears in Yellowstone, the species remains in peril elsewhere because of continued threats from climate change and habitat loss.

The Yellowstone population has rebounded from just 136 animals when they were granted federal protections in 1975.

Grizzlies in recent years have returned to many areas where they were absent for decades. That has meant more dangerous run-ins with people, such as a Wyoming hunting guide who was killed this fall in a grizzly attack.

Christensen’s ruling marked the second time the government has sought to lift protections for Yellowstone bears only to be reversed in court.

The agency initially declared a successful recovery for the Yellowstone population in 2007. But a federal judge ordered protections to remain while wildlife officials studied whether the decline of a major food source — whitebark pine seeds — could threaten the bears’ survival.

The Fish and Wildlife Service concluded last year it had addressed that and all other threats.

There was speculation the agency would not appeal the latest ruling and instead draft a new proposal to get the animal off the threatened list.

That possibility was raised by the agency’s grizzly bear recovery coordinator during a meeting last month with Wyoming state lawmakers, according to the Powell Tribune.

Friday’s appeal signals that at least for now the court battle over grizzlies will grind on.

But Andrea Santarsiere with the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the plaintiffs in the case before Christensen, said the government still has the option in coming months to dismiss the case.

“I think Fish and Wildlife should go back to the drawing board and come up with a new plan to actually recover grizzly bears across the West, rather than a piecemeal approach,” she said.

Also pending before the 9th Circuit are appeals from parties that intervened on behalf of the Fish and Wildlife Service. They include the states of Idaho and Wyoming and groups representing hunting interests, gun rights and agriculture.

Cody Wisniewski with the Mountain States Legal Foundation said that if allowed to stand, Christensen’s ruling could make it harder for other species to be taken off the threatened and endangered species list.

“Opinions like this move the goalposts,” he said.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Jennifer Strickland referred questions about the case to the Department of Justice, which did not provide an on-the-record comment.

‘Extreme Conservation’ in the Most Hostile Places on Earth

Joel Berger dresses up in a bear suit to see how muskoxen in the Arctic will react, just one of the ways he’s an “extreme conservationist.”

Conserving wildlife at the extreme edges of the natural world, whether in the Arctic, Tibet, or Mongolia, presents huge challenges, from potholed roads (or no roads) to hypothermia, bear attacks, and even arrest. In Extreme Conservation, Joel Berger, professor of conservation biology at Colorado State University and scientist at the Wildlife Conservation Society, takes us on a journey to some of the most remote places on the planet, and introduces us to some of its rarest animals.

When National Geographic caught up with him at his home in Fort Collins, Colorado, he described how he was arrested in Russia, how climate change is bringing more and more species together in new and unpredictable ways, and why man’s best friend is increasingly a menace to wildlife.

Your work focuses on animals living in some of the most inhospitable places on earth. Introduce us to some of these creatures and tell us what draws you to these places. Are you a masochist, or what?

[Laughs] Good question, Simon! I do work in places that are a little bit off the radar. A lot of people know about elephants, say, in East Africa but people don’t know much about a species that lived with woolly mammoth called muskoxen. They’re an Arctic-only species, though they are not an ox and they don’t make musk. They’re more of a goat-antelope. They live in the cold, wind-swept tundra, from Greenland across Northern Canada into Arctic Alaska, and now a little bit into the Siberian Arctic.

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS

 

As we know, the world is warming. Most people believe that, even if the U.S. administration at the highest levels does not. This creates a lot of issues for cold-adapted species because they’re not used to warm weather. What happens when it rains rather than snows in the middle of winter and then everything freezes? The work I’m doing with my colleagues is both at the top of the world and at high elevations, in the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau. It is dealing with animals that are having problems with heat because as things warm it changes precipitation, ice, and snowfall. And these are very recent changes for these little-known, cold-adapted animals.

One of the odder things your work in the Arctic involved was dressing up as a bear and a caribou. What was that all about?

[Laughs] Most of my work has been in Arctic Alaska and over in eastern Arctic Russia. As the ice recedes, polar bears are ending up on islands and we’re trying to figure out how muskoxen are going to do with this potential predator on land. The best way as a scientist to get information is through experiments. In my case, my lab is the tundra. So I dress up as a bear and approach these groups of muskoxen to try and understand whether they’re recognizing bears. Can they tell a white bear is a polar bear versus a grizzly bear?

Occasionally, it gets dangerous. Male muskoxen are 800 pounds or so, with hooked horns, a bit like a Cape buffalo. I’m usually down on all fours with my fake cape and fake bear head. One time I was charged and I had to get rid of them fast. The fake head went flying up in the air, and the cape flew off in the other direction. Fortunately, the charging muskox got very confused as this biped stood up. All of a sudden, I was no longer a bear, but a screaming human!

Do you travel with your bear suit?

Oh, yeah, I do travel with the bear suit. [chortles] I get on an airplane and put down the fake head right next to me on the seat. The people sitting next door are either horrified or laughing. They’re not quite sure what to think! I’m as straight as can be but sometimes I break up on it, too. [laughs]

One of the surprising developments in the Arctic is the convergence of brown and polar bears. Tell us about so-called “pizzlies” and what they reveal about the changing climate.

Scientists have discovered that at least 10 different hybrid bears have been confirmed for DNA, which means we’re getting mating between brown and polar bears. Because of a warming Arctic, we’re bringing these species together. We now have grizzlies on islands in the Canadian Arctic where they had not appeared before, and we’ve got more polar bears on land scavenging whales and grizzlies scavenging those same whales. We don’t know what the outcomes are going to be. But we do know that we’ve got changing systems because of changing ice in the Arctic. And this has implications not only for the wildlife but also for the humans who subsist on the wildlife.

According to the proverb, dogs are man’s best friends. But they’re not wildlife’s best friends, are they? Talk us through some of the issues in Bhutan and elsewhere.

Of maybe 700 million dogs in the world, close to 50 percent of them are free-roaming in one sense or another. That doesn’t mean they’re totally feral but in places like Bhutan, Chile, and parts of Patagonia we’ve got dogs that are not under much control. Free-roaming dogs have been detected causing havoc in wide parts of the Himalayas and Mongolia, where they’re attacking different endangered species, from snow leopards to chiru, an antelope in Tibet that was the mascot for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. There are also attacks on takin, the national mammal of Bhutan, and other species in Central Asia. We don’t see this in the West so much, where dogs are usually under control. But in many other parts of the world dogs are causing havoc to wildlife.

Like many readers, I suspect, the takin is new to me. Introduce us to this strange animal, and its equally unusual home in the valley of Tsharijathang, in Bhutan.

Takin have been described as part wildebeest, part moose, and part pig. It’s a very unusual species that is rumoured to have been the source for the legend of the Golden Fleece. It’s a large animal, up to about 800 pounds, with beautiful fur, and is part of the goat-antelope group. They occur on cliffs and steep slopes in mountainous areas in China, Bhutan, and Burma. They are secretive, living in forests down low, where they’re a prey of tigers, or up high the young can be the prey of snow leopards. We know very little about them because of the deep forest habitat they occur in. Only in summer, when they migrate very high, do they emerge from the forests, and that’s when we get the best glimpse of them.

When I started my field work with some Bhutanese colleagues they told me it’s a five-day hike to get into the area, with three 17,000-foot passes. I was in my early 60s but I was like, “OK, I’m game, let’s do it!” It was a challenging way to enter some of these pristine landscapes where herders still raise domestic yaks and some horses. Snow leopards also occur in the system, so it’s a fascinating area few people ever see. And, yes, there are takin.

It’ll soon be time to get out our cashmere sweaters again. But according to you we may also be contributing to the extinction of many animals in Central Asia, including the iconic snow leopard. Unravel the threads for us.

Ninety percent of the world’s cashmere comes from two countries: Mongolia and China. The people on the land, the herders, rightfully want to do what the rest of us want, and have a sustainable economy and support their families. But as they increase the number of goats that produce the world’s high-quality cashmere, the goats nibble everything. As a result, a half-dozen endangered species are not having access to the food they need, species like saiga, which is a very odd antelope with a dangling proboscis. Other species that are impacted include Przewalski horseskhulan, an endangered desert ass in the Gobi, and blue sheep, which are not endangered but are major prey of snow leopards. And as the herders are incentivized to produce more and more goats, the situation becomes increasingly more dire for species on the land. Nobody wants people to get impacted, so the difficulty is finding the right type of solutions that can help people on the land but still benefit the species that occur there.

Wrangel Island, in the Russian Arctic, has to be one of the least-visited places on Earth. Put us on the map and explain why you call it a post-apocalyptic landscape.

It can be accessed only by boat or helicopter. But I could not get from my sites in Alaska to Wrangel. I had to fly to Moscow, go nine times zones east, land at a port 240 miles from Wrangel, and wait for a Russian helicopter to drop me in.

I call it post-apocalyptic because not only are there polar bears, but wolves have gotten there on their own, though the nearest point on land is 80 miles away. Caribou have been brought in and reindeer, which have gone feral. Wolverines have also made it from the Siberian coastline, traversing ice and frozen seas to get there. Now you’ve got a mixture going on between hybrid dogs that now look like wolves, or wolves that look like hybrid dogs. Muskoxen were also brought over at the request of the Russian Government, when we had a good relationship with them.

We still participate with Russian scientists, despite some of the acrimony at political levels. Conservation is the province of everybody. And it’s a marvellous place to work! It’s got a lot of wildlife and may be the forerunner of what the world is going to look like as different assemblages of species come together.

You’ve done 33 expeditions, including 19 to the Arctic, seven in Mongolia and seven in Tibet and the Himalayas. Talk us through some of the highs and lows of those journeys.

[Laughs] A major high would be coming across muskoxen and polar bear tracks on one of those bluebird days when it might be 20 degrees Fahrenheit below zero, but no wind, and sparkling ice. One of the lows was flying from Moscow and landing in a Siberian town called Pevek. Russian Security Border Patrol folks came on, I’m the only Americanski on the plane, and I am escorted off, my passport confiscated, and taken to the police station. Everything is being done in Russian, a language I am unfamiliar with, and the only words that I understand are C-I-A. [laughs]

In Mongolia, I ended up in the emergency room because my legs were going into spasms and for three days I wasn’t able to hold any food. But one kind of sucks it up. There are many other scientists and explorers who go out there and do similar things. But we do realize that there are some trade-offs.

At the end of the book, you write, “In the absence of commitment on both global and local scales, the iconic wildlife of the world’s highest mountains and greatest steppes will cease to persist.” Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future?

There are a lot of reasons to be pessimistic but if that’s the view we choose to take there are going to be no chances. On a personal level, I’m optimistic! There are a lot of countries investing in conservation. Russia has stepped up with 191 islands in the Arctic that are protected as of 2016. Places in Western China the size of California have been linked together for conservation. Chile is planning to link 10 of their national parks. In the U.S., the number of people per year that go to national parks and zoos eclipses all professional baseball, football, and basketball combined. People care about nature and wildlife, and that’s why I am optimistic.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Seven new rules every Washington hunter should know this fall

 

Thhttp://www.spokesman.com/stories/2018/sep/20/seven-new-rules-every-washington-hunter-should-kno/u., Sept. 20, 2018, 5 a.m.

Paul Degel, 39, fires his 54-caliber Leman Trade Rifle, a common flintlock from the early 1800s, in early Oct., 2005, near his home west of Sheridan, Montana. Degel killed his first deer with a muzzleloader at age 14 and was hooked. Twenty-five years, nearly a dozen elk and more than two dozen deer taken with a flintlock later, Degel said his passion for the only type of weapon he hunts big game with has only grown. (NICK GEVOCK / AP)
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New rules. New regulations. A new fall hunting season.

Each year the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife examines its hunting rules and regulations and makes changes. Making sense of those changes can be hard. We’re here to help. Below are seven important changes every hunter should know. Changes include increased deer opportunities in Northeast Washington, new black powder primer options, more fall turkey opportunities (and regulations) and new requirements for black bear hunters.

Turkey hunters must wear orange

Turkey hunters must now wear hunter orange while hunting during a modern deer or elk firearm season.

In the past, turkey season did not overlap with the modern firearm season. An extended turkey season now means there is considerable overlap. With all other species, hunters must already wear orange when hunting during a modern firearm season.

Not including turkey hunters on that list was an oversight, said Kevin Robinette, WDFW regional wildlife manager in Spokane

Of the hunters who commented on this change, 37 supported it while 21 opposed. Those who opposed worried that the bright color would make it harder to successfully hunt the keen-sighted birds.

“When it comes to turkey hunting, if you sit still, if you’re doing what you’re supposed to do as a turkey hunter, it shouldn’t matter,” said Matt Mimnaugh, a board member of the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council and the chairman of the big game committee. “And on the bright side of that very small inconvenience, we are now able to hunt turkeys all fall.”

Turkey season extended

Which brings us to the next change. The fall turkey season now runs Sept. 1 through Dec. 31, Robinette said. That’s significantly longer than in the past, when the season ran from Sept. 23 to Oct. 31.

The extended season is partially in response to continued conflicts between turkeys and farmers and an ever-increasing population, Robinette said.

“This will be an opportunity for sport hunters to actually help out with that problem,” he said.

Antlerless deer opportunities in NE Washington

Archers and black powder hunters now have early- and late-season opportunities to hunt antlerless deer in Game Management Units 101 through 121 (Northeast Washington), Robinette said.

Although it’s too late to apply this fall, modern rifle hunters are now able to apply for an antlerless deer tag.

“That’s something we haven’t had in a long time,” he said.

Montana, Mississippi added to list of CWD-positive states

In the ongoing effort to halt the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease, the WDFW has banned the importation and retention of “specific parts of dead nonresident wildlife that could contain CWD” from Montana and Mississippi.

Specifically, hunters may only bring meat that has been deboned, skulls and antlers from which all soft tissue has been removed, and hides or capes without heads attached.

The rule change comes on the heels of Montana confirming the existence of the deadly neurological disease in 2017. WDFW received 20 comments supporting the change. Five hunters opposed the change.

“I think any restrictions they put on that (CWD) is a good thing,” Mimnaugh said. “We obviously don’t want to see that spreading into our state.”

Modern primers allowed on muzzle-loaders

More modern primers will be allowed during black-powder season. The WDFW Commission requested that the agency survey hunters on the proposal. The majority of hunters who responded favored the change.

Hunters will now be allowed to use primers for modern centerfire cartridges during muzzle-loader season. Those primers are more moisture-resistant, Mimnaugh said. Although some purists believe a more modern primer goes against the spirit of a primitive hunt, Mimnaugh doesn’t see it that way and believes it could help hunters make cleaner, more ethical kills.

He imagines a situation in which a hunter shoots, but does not kill, an animal. With a traditional black-powder primer, it may not be possible for the hunter to get another shot off and cleanly finish the kill if it’s raining or damp out.

“I don’t think it’s giving them an unfair advantage,” he said.

Of those hunters surveyed, 148 supported the proposal, 77 opposed it and five were neutral.

Grizzly bear ID test required

Starting in 2018, black bear hunters will need to take an online grizzly bear identification test if they want to hunt in Game Management Units known to have grizzly bears.

Idaho and Montana require black-bear hunters to take the short test, Robinette said.

After successfully taking the test, hunters must print out a card certifying their completion and carry the card during their hunts.

Although some might grumble at the increased regulation, Mimnaugh said the new rule is nothing but good.

“I fully support that,” he said. “Any time you’re given an opportunity to educate yourself, and someone is willing to give you that information and make you a better hunter, why not do that?”

Drones added to list of prohibited aircraft

WDFW added drones to the list of aircraft that hunters are not allowed to use during a hunt. Using aircraft, boats or other vehicles to assist in a hunt is already prohibited under Washington’s administrative code.

Drones are now added to that list. WDFW may still authorize certain individuals or organizations to use drones.

Eighty-two hunters supported the change in written comments, while 14 opposed it.

Hunter gets death threats after posting picture of grizzly bear he just killed

Rob WaughMonday 17 Sep 2018 11:48 am Share this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messenger A hunter has received death threats after posting images where he posed with a dead grizzly bear he had just killed. Former professional hockey player Tim Brent, 34, posted the images after killing the bear in Yukon, Canada. Brent said, ‘Alright folks, here is my Mountain Grizzly! We put an awesome stalk on him but he spotted us at about 75 yards. ‘Instead of taking off he turned and came right at us. It was very easy to tell this bear owned the valley we were hunting in and wasn’t scared of anything!’ 999 operator describes harrowing 40 minute call with mother she couldn’t save in Grenfell In another photo, Brent poses holding up the dead animal’s paw saying, ‘Did you know on average a single Grizzly eats around 40 Moose and Caribou calves during each calving season?’ The posts provoked a flood of anger and revulsion when he shared them on Instagram – with some commenters posting death threats. Some posters said they hoped he would be mauled to death by a bear – and one suggested they would call in a ‘Mexican cartel’ to kill him. In response, a defiant Brent posted images of his fridge filled with meat from animals he has killed. Share this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messenger

 

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A former Canadian pro-hockey player has come under fire after tweeting about hunting and killing a grizzly bear earlier this week.

Posting on Twitter a photo of himself posing with the bear, 34-year-old Tim Brent said they’d ‘put an awesome stalk on him’.

Explaining that the animal had spotted them at about 75 yards, he added: “Instead of taking off he turned and came right at us. It was very easy to tell this boar owned the valley we were hunting in and wasn’t scared of anything!”

Brent, who used to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs in Canada’s National Hockey League, has since also posted photos of ‘his’ Yukon moose, which he said ‘absolutely humbled’ him.

Brent has since received backlash for both his hunting habits and openly boasting about them. His tweet where he poses with the dead bear has racked up 20,000 comments.

It’s even caught the attention of several big names, including comedian Ricky Gervais, who regularly speaks out about animal rights. He tweeted: “I bet killing this beautiful bear put ‘an awesome stalk’ on Tim too.”

Sherlock actor Amanda Abbington also condemned Brent’s actions – and was clearly not holding back, writing: “You are a c***. A stupid, inbred, unfeeling piece of s*** c***.”

Others said the photo and caption were ‘disgusting’, ‘horrible’ and ‘nauseating’.

Brent later tweeted to say he’d even received death threats, writing: “These are the types of messages I am getting on twitter in response to my moose and bear hunts.

“I would love to know what constitutes a threat or abuse for Twitter? This is what we are up against as Hunters.”

Featured Image Credit: Twitter/Tim Brent

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.”

Amendment Defunding Grizzly Transportation To Washington Passes House

This undated file photo provided by the National Park Service shows a grizzly bear walking along a ridge in Montana.

This undated file photo provided by the National Park Service shows a grizzly bear walking along a ridge in Montana.

National Park Service

An amendment to prevent the relocation of grizzly bears to Washington’s North Cascades has passed the U.S. House. The move is opposed by conservation groups, which say more grizzly bears are needed in the state.The amendment, proposed by Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., would deny funding for the U.S. Department of Interior to transport grizzly bears into Washington. Newhouse said this amendment was important to his constituents who are concerned about the possibility of another predator so close to home.

“We saw that (Interior) was determined to move forward, regardless of what the opinions of the people who would be most impacted,” Newhouse said.

Newhouse said he felt it was necessary to “take positive action” to make sure that the Interior Department was not able to bring in grizzly bears.

“I’m hearing from an awful lot of people that are expressing grave concerns about having grizzly bears literally in their backyards,” Newhouse said.

To that end, he said he’s working with officials in the Interior to schedule more public comment opportunities in the Okanogan area. These would be in addition to earlier public comment periods around the state that focused on options the federal government could take to reintroduce grizzlies to the North Cascades.

There are fewer than 10 grizzly bears in Washington’s North Cascades. Biologists say if something isn’t done now, grizzlies will soon be gone from the area. They say grizzlies are important to the area’s ecosystem.

Records from the Hudson’s Bay Company indicate there were once thousands of grizzlies in the state. In the mid-1800s, records indicate trappers traded nearly 4,000 grizzly hides through forts in the area — although all of those pelts may not have come from the North Cascades. Biologists say there was a healthy population of grizzlies at one time. The bears were wiped out from fur trading, hunting and habitat fragmentation.

The federal government is in the middle of drafting options for restoring grizzly bears to the North Cascades. The controversial plans range from doing nothing to transporting varying numbers of bears from areas like Canada and Montana.

“(The North Cascades) is the only place outside the Northern Rockies that wildlife officials have said is wild enough for grizzly bear restoration in the Lower 48 — the only place,” said Chase Gunnell, spokesman for Conservation Northwest. “If we’re going to have grizzly bears into the future, we can’t just have them around Yellowstone or Glacier National Park. We need to diversify the population. And the Cascades are it.”

Gunnell said this amendment wouldn’t necessarily prevent the federal government from continuing to study the various options for grizzlies in the North Cascades — it would only prevent funding to the Interior Department for transporting grizzlies.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke speaking on March 23, 2018, about the restarted re-introduction process for grizzly bears in Washington’s North Cascades. Looking on is Karen Taylor Goodrich, the superintendent of the North Cascades National Park Service Complex.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke speaking on March 23, 2018, about the restarted re-introduction process for grizzly bears in Washington’s North Cascades. Looking on is Karen Taylor Goodrich, the superintendent of the North Cascades National Park Service Complex.

Eilís O’Neill/KUOW/EarthFix

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said during a surprise visit to Washington that he was “in support of the great bear” and moving forward with a careful process to decide what to do with grizzlies here.About that process, Zinke said, “I’m not going to make a prejudgment, but I can tell you the winds are very favorable,” Zinke said.

Gunnell said Newhouse’s amendment is skirting an open, public process, which is expected to present a draft decision by the end of this year. Gunnell said he’s concerned about the precedent this would set, with Congress members “pulling on the purse strings” of wildlife officials.

“Our Fish and Wildlife Service, National Parks Service and other wildlife professionals are the ones best suited to address endangered species issues,” Gunnell said.

The bill includes funding for the U.S. Department of Interior, Environmental Protection Agency and Forest Service. It also includes measures to:

– Remove gray wolves from the Endangered Species List in the Lower 48 by 2019;
– Fund wildland firefighting and prevention programs at $3.9 billion, with an additional $500 million for Forest Service fire suppression operations. It also includes $655 million for hazardous fuels management;
– Urge the Forest Service to find funding for upgrades to facilities at the North Cascades Smokejumper Base in Winthrop;
– And encourage the Forest Service to better monitor grazing permits near riparian streams that could affect threatened or endangered species.

The Interior Department funding bill now heads to the U.S. Senate.

Fierce critic of Wyoming grizzly bear hunt scores license

https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/fierce-critic-of-wyoming-grizzly-bear-hunt-scores-license/

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — A fierce critic of grizzly bear hunting who has made a career photographing the animals has drawn a tag for Wyoming’s first such hunt in 44 years.

The Jackson Hole News & Guide reported Thursday that Tom Mangelsen drew No. 8 on an issuance list that will allow up to 10 grizzly hunters into the field starting Sept. 15. He was up against 3,500 Wyoming residents and 2,327 nonresidents vying for a shot at the tags.

Mangelsen, who credited being chosen to “dumb luck,” was among scores of people from around the country who applied for the tags as a means of civil disobedience intended to slow the hunt. Wildlife managers say the tactic is legal.

The hunt for which Mangelsen’s tag is valid will end after the first female bear is killed. Up to 10 male grizzlies can be killed.

___

Information from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, http://www.jhnewsandguide.com

Mindless Behavior, Sadistic Tactics Planned Against Alaska Wildlife

Here are C.A.S.H.’s Comments Re the proposed anti-animal tactics to be undertaken in Alaskan National Monuments:

As a wildlife photographer I’ve spent the better part of a decade in Alaska, photographing bears and wolves in addition to moose, Dall’s sheep and caribou in numerous locations throughout the region. Most of what I saw was in the State’s National Parks—Glacier Bay, Katmai and Denali. One thing that struck me right off was how comparatively little wildlife I came acrossin National Monuments such as Wrangle Saint Elias. Clearly, hunting and trapping had taken their toll in the unprotected lands and monuments that, unlike the parks, allowed wildlife “harvesting.”

But even if I wasn’t now president of the group C.A.S.H., the Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting, I’d be sickened, outraged and appalled by the new federal proposals to allow abusive treatment of some ofthe world’s most intelligent and charismatic animals who reside in our Alaskan national monuments. Among the shockingly sadistic tactics are such mindless behaviors as murdering bear cubs and wolf pups in their dens, targeting of animals like swimming caribou from boats and using bait to lure animals like bears in for the kill.

The Trump Administration, in their rush to undo any protections wildlife may have been afforded under the Obama Administration, must think they’ll score points with their friends in the NRA or the Safari Club. But their boss doesn’t need anything else to make him look bad at this point in his career—his sons are already doing a bang-up job at that.

Jim Robertson

President, Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting.

Comment on the new rules here: https://www.regulations.gov/searchResults?rpp=25&po=0&s=1024-AE38&fp=true&ns=true