The end of grizzly trophy hunting in B.C. in 2017? 

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September 1st marks a dark day in British Columbia – the start of the province’s controversial fall grizzly bear hunt. This widely opposed slaughter sees greed-driven trophy hunters setting out into BC’s wild places every spring and fall in search of a bear they can shoot and kill for nothing more than a trophy – a head to put on the wall, a rug for their floor and paws to prove their supposed prowess.

We have the BC Liberal government to thank for the continuation of this archaic and senseless slaughter. In 2001, the NDP government announced a three-year moratorium on grizzly bear hunting in BC. Sadly, this victory was short-lived. When the Liberals came into office a few months later, that moratorium was lifted and grizzlies were once again in the sights of sport hunters. Today, this Liberal Party legacy continues despite the lack of social license, science, economics and ethics.

The BC Liberals argue the hunt is sustainable, yet the very science behind this hunt is questioned by independent scientists, who state the province’s grizzly population numbers on which hunt quotas are based are flawed and overinflated. It’s also troubling to see the hunt described as sustainable given that a study published earlier this year by a government scientist found that a hunted population in the South Rockies has declined by about 40 per cent between 2006-2013, under the government’s watchful eye.

Economically, there is the logical argument that a live bear is worth more to the province than a dead one – that same bear can be “shot” with a tourist’s camera, time and time again. Meanwhile, it’s been suggested that the revenue generated by grizzly trophy hunting fees and licences fails to even cover the province’s management costs for the hunt, making it a poor economic decision as well.

Ultimately, what it comes down to is whether or not the practice of killing for sport aligns with our values as British Columbians. Polling over the years has reflected clear opposition to the trophy hunt, with the latest indicating that 91 per cent of British Columbians, both rural and urban dwelling, condemn the practice.

This iconic species, the same one featured in the province’s “Super, Natural” tourism ads, has been the victim of government inaction for far too long. September 1st marks the start of the fall trophy hunt.

May 9th, 2017 is our opportunity to end it. BC’s next premier needs to be a strong advocate for local economies and ethical, effective wildlife management. I urge all British Columbians to join me in contacting their current MLAs to tell them they will be voting for the party that commits to ending the trophy hunting of grizzly bears once and for all.

More: http://www.vancouverobserver.com/opinion/end-grizzly-trophy-hunting-bc-2017

Yellowstone’s Grizzly Dead: 2015 Shatters Records for Grizzly Bear Deaths

August 25, 2016

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by Louisa Willcox

Today, thousands of people are gathered in Yellowstone to celebrate the centennial birthday of the National Parks, which many say is perhaps the best idea that America has ever had.  But no one is in Gardiner, Montana, today to mourn the dead. And indeed, most do not know of the catastrophe that hit the grizzly bear, one of the Park’s most beloved icons, in 2015, when 85 bears died out a population of perhaps 717 animals.

Last week, government data was released showing that bear deaths during 2015 shattered previous records, and that thresholds for allowable female deaths were exceeded by a large margin (link). The death toll of 85 grizzlies is not an anomaly, but rather the most recent manifestation of a decade of unsustainable high grizzly bear mortality.

If current trends continue – and this year is poised to break another record – the hard fought progress towards recovery of Yellowstone’s grizzly bear population will be quickly reversed. The federal government’s proposal to strip Endangered Species Act protections later this year and allow sport hunting will exacerbate the current threats to grizzly bears in and around the nation’s oldest park.

The US Geological Survey, a sister agency to the Park Service and responsible for compiling data on Yellowstone’s bear population, has still failed to release its long-delayed annual report covering 2015—a year that is now nearly nine months gone. But a summary of the report, issued last week in response to public outcry, tells all – despite the deliberately obtuse and convoluted language.

What do these deaths mean, and what will happen to Yellowstone’s magnificent grizzly bears if hunting is legalized and added to what is already excessive human-caused mortality?

The Grizzly Dead

According to the US Geological Survey’s Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST), 61 Yellowstone grizzly bears are known to have died during 2015.  (link). And this doesn’t account for the additional 24 that were thought to have died, but went unreported, most of which were also probably killed by humans. This breaks the record for annual grizzly bear deaths by any cause since 1959, which is when data on mortalities started to be compiled. And it breaks my heart.

Applying a calculation that accounts for unreported bear deaths, the government estimates 70 bears died inside the Demographic Monitoring Area (DMA), which constitutes the core of grizzly bear habitat (link). Adding the 11 known and 4 unknown but probable deaths outside the DMA, the total death toll is 85 bears. This is a shocking 11% of the estimated population of 717 grizzly bears — and a 20% increase above the next-highest year, 2010, when 68 bears died.  A full rundown of the body count and what it means can be found here (link).

According to the IGBST, the dead included 25 adolescent and reproductive females. But according to the government’s own protocols, no more than 18 females, or 7.6% of the total, can be killed without causing a population decline. Twenty five dead mothers, including those who never had a chance to bear young, constitutes a huge violation of the government’s limits, and should make federal managers pause in their headlong rush to delist the population. Females are the ultimate arbiters of population health. It should be noted too that a mom’s death has deadly consequences for her orphaned cubs.

This year is shaping up to be another blood bath for bears, with 27 known deaths so far (link), or roughly 38 animals if an estimate of unreported deaths is included.

These numbers are overwhelming and under-reported in the media. And most of the deaths are completely unnecessary.  More on this later.

Of Foul Play and Thuggishness

Of the bears killed last year, 19 are being investigated as possible poaching incidents (link). This includes the Yellowstone Park celebrity grizzly, Scarface, who was murdered by a big game hunter outside the Park border last fall.

This is almost three times the next highest number of potential poaching incidents recorded during 2012, when 7 deaths were under investigation.

It is almost certain that these deaths were caused by hunters (or by poachers, although the line between hunters and poachers is often blurred). In the past, deaths under investigation fell into the categories of hunter-related incidents, self-defense kills (often a euphemism for a hunter-related incident), and black bear hunters mistaking a grizzly for a black bear.

What is going on? We may never know for sure, with so few eyes and ears in the backcountry, as federal budgets and the number of backcountry personnel shrink.

But this could well be more of the notorious “Shoot, Shovel and Shut up” behavior that landed grizzly bears on the endangered species list in the first place.  In other words, armed thugs tired of waiting for delisting are looking for opportunities to illegally kill bears.

An article in the Jackson Hole News and Guide gives a glimpse of the involved mindset (link). Two years ago, in Wyoming’s remote Thorofare area, one party of hunters shot into a group of five grizzly bears feeding on the carcass of an elk they had killed. They killed a 17 year old radio-collared bear, Number 764, with .44 and .357 magnum slugs. The hunters had watched the situation for many minutes and had the chance to walk away. This was not a surprise, defense of life situation. It was an act of raw aggression. The case was not prosecuted. Almost none are.

Another incident occurred during 2010 on Mountain Creek in the Teton Wilderness (link).  A grizzly bear was killed at an outfitter camp. The protocol for dealing with bears that get near camps like this one is to try to scare them away with noise, dogs and shooting cracker shells. A worker who shot the involved bear in the chest and abdomen said later he intended to “hit it in the ass.”  “Son of a bitch wouldn’t leave,” he said.

Thuggish behavior by state officials could also be a factor in decisions to kill more bears, even those that have not caused problems with people. One good example was Grizzly 760, grandcub of Teton Park celebrity mom 399, who was killed by Wyoming and Game and Fish officials in 2014 even though he had never obtained a food reward from people and had never threatened, let alone hurt, anybody or their livestock (link).

Behaving like playground bullies in the push to delist Yellowstone’s grizzlies (link), states wildlife managers seem to be acting as if delisting has already happened and, along with it, a return to open season on bears. In fact, according to state plans, several hundred bears could be killed within a few years after delisting as part of deliberate efforts to reduce numbers of grizzly bears in the Yellowstone region, potentially to critically low levels.

Fear, aggression, and lack of understanding and heart. These are the kind of ungenerous and perverse impulses that seem to drive the killing spree of the last two years. The polar opposite of what is being celebrated in Yellowstone today: respect and reverence for nature. In her recent book, The Hour of Land, Terry Tempest Williams called national parks “portals and thresholds of wonder,” and the “breathing spaces for a society that increasingly holds its breath.” Unfortunately, there is not much evidence of wonder or expansive generosity on the part of our grizzly bear managers or many back-country hunters.

In this time of commemoration of parks and wild nature, it grieves me to think that things could get worse for grizzly bears if they are delisted this year and made the victims of hunting designed to entertain a perverse few.

Mums the Word on Bear Death Toll

The government bureaucrats responsible for managing Yellowstone’s grizzlies have responded to last year’s spike in potentially illegal mortalities with stunning silence. The topic of these deaths was a non-issue at recent meetings in Bozeman, West Yellowstone, Jackson and Missoula, which were instead a stage to stroke managers’ egos, glorify agency “successes,” and promote delisting (link). Although managers knew about the record high mortalities, they remained mum. A political mandate to perpetuate this silence could well explain why the IGBST has not yet released its 2015 report, which includes a lot of bad news. If not, the extent to which delay furthers the political agenda of delisting is a striking coincidence.

The only managers who have not been silent are Yellowstone Park Superintendent Dan Wenk and Grand Teton Park Superintendent David Vela, who continue to protest state plans for hunting grizzly bears outside the park borders, and the deliberate exclusion of the Park Service by the states from any involvement in development of post-delisting hunting policies (link).

But it seems that state managers, aided by the US Fish & Wildlife Service, are committed to expediting delisting and hunting grizzly bears, protests of Park Service officials notwithstanding. Perversely, state wildlife managers not only seem to think that hunting is the only proper “use” of an animal as noble as the grizzly bear, but also that it is morally acceptable to legalize poaching rather than try to deter it. Which begs the question why state managers are so eager to placate people who behave like criminals. Perhaps the answer has something to do with the nature of people who populate state management agencies. Almost to a man, they promote trophy hunting, and, by doing so, condone the notion that killing animals for entertainment is not only acceptable, but laudable.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), charged with restoring imperiled species on behalf of all of us, seems to have lost its way. I previously wrote about the heartless even mindless behavior of FWS bureaucrats. The metaphor that came to mind was that of a zombie in service of some relentless master (link). It is both tragic and contrary to the spirit and intent of the Endangered Species Act that the FWS has enslaved itself to the agenda of state politicians who see grizzly bears only as an inconvenience or simply as “things” to be dominated and killed (link). Despite its mandate – and what could be a more compassionate mission than to save species – the FWS is now catering to the thugs.

All of the government agencies have banded together perpetrate an age-old tactic of avoiding the problem by attacking their critics, including scientists, grizzly bear advocates, and the roughly 50 Indian Tribes that have come out in opposition to delisting. At a recent meeting of federal and state managers, the Tribes, which have objected to hunting grizzly bears on spiritual and cultural grounds, were criticized by these bureaucrats as being “out of touch with reality” (link).

Yet the Tribes are representing the interests of many of us by challenging the ethos of Manifest Destiny that drove the genocide of Indian people and the slaughter of millions of buffalo, wolves and grizzly bears, all in the name of “progress.”  The Tribes, and the multitudes who today commemorate the wisdom of preserving parks, share the view that nature should be preserved in a spirit of wonder, not greedily exploited for the profit of a few, nor served up to slake the blood-lust of an even smaller minority yet.

Unbearable Killing

The government’s own data puts the lie to claims being made by state and federal bear managers that Yellowstone’s grizzly bear population can absorb the high levels of mortality that we’ve seen during recent years. The population is no longer growing, and more likely has been declining since 2007 (link). IGBST data showed a substantial decline of roughly 50 bears in estimated population size between 2014 and 2015. This trend has been driven by the loss of two former key native grizzly bear foods, cutthroat trout and whitebark pine (link), and subsequent shifts in diet. Bears have turned increasingly to foraging on meat, mostly cows and big game, which draws them into mounting conflicts with ranchers and hunters (link).

As the US Fish and Wildlife Service has long recognized, most bear-human conflicts are avoidable. The solutions are not starry eyed, but practical. They include paying attention and being prepared to encounter bears in the backcountry (link). Carrying bear pepper spray (link). Keeping clean camps.  Dealing responsibly with dead game to help keep grizzly bears alive.

These are but a few of the tools of coexistence. Our choice to use them rather than bullets depends on the stories we choose to tell ourselves about our place in the world, as well as that of animals such as grizzly bears.

Today, we have the power of life and death over the Great Bear. If unchecked, an armed and hostile few, aided by the government, will continue to indulge in violence and aggression that could push Yellowstone’s grizzly bears back to the brink of extinction. The interests of the majority who want to see bears alive and flourishing around the nation’s oldest park could be sacrificed for those of a death-oriented minority.

If grizzly bears are delisted and hunted, we may, in a few short years, wake to find them at rock bottom levels, hunkered down inside the borders of the Yellowstone and Grand Teton Parks. And shot, as wolves are now, and as Scarface was last fall, if they dare step across the border.

Is this our vision for the future of our nation

Sates Prove Playground Bullies In Push To Delist Yellowstone Grizzly Bears

[grizzly-commons:3378] Counterpunch: States Prove Playground Bullies in Push to Delist Yellowstone Grizzlies

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State wildlife managers from Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho have recently dispelled any illusions about how they intend to treat grizzly bears after wresting management control away from the federal government. Removal of Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections will probably happen later this year and, if that happens, the states have made clear that they plan to go on a blood-letting binge involving the slaughter of hundreds of bears. They are already showing their thuggish nature in dealings with the public and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). State managers, most notably those representing Wyoming, have been the proverbial playground bullies during recent public meetings and, unfortunately, the FWS is rewarding this nastiness by acquiescing to every demand.

Not only do the states intend to allow trophy hunting, they also want a free hand to kill more grizzlies without any accountability to the national public that treasures these bears… or even any accountability to the majority of state residents who don’t support hunting grizzlies. At a meeting of grizzly bear managers earlier this month, only Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk had the courage to speak out in defense of the grizzly bears that define the nation’s oldest Park (link). Wenk objected to hunting grizzly bears in lands bordering Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. The state managers who were present responded by saying, basically, “bugger off.”

The battle lines are clearly drawn. On one side, the states are representing the ethos of death and violence, slaved to the interests of hunters and ranchers. On the other, the Park Service is upholding an ethos of preservation and respect, on behalf of the broader American public. The states are about guarding the franchise of a few and their exploitative pursuits, while the Park Service is about empowering the many, who tend towards more benign, even altruistic, treatment of wildlife and wildlands.

The Park Service’s philosophy reflects a broader cultural trend towards greater inclusiveness, greater tolerance, and greater respect for those who are different—increasingly including animals (Among other great books on the topic is Stephen Pinker’s Better Angels of Our Nature).  This trend is reflected in the fact that, according to Acting FWS Recovery Coordinator Wayne Kasworm, over 99% of the 290,000 comments submitted during May of this year to the FWS in response to its proposed removal of ESA protections opposed this move, opposed trophy hunting, and supported increased protections.

The states, which have the upper hand right now, are making no secret about their agenda or their disregard for the widespread concern about their prospective treatment of grizzly bears. A letter submitted in May to the FWS by Wyoming, Idaho and Montana makes this agenda crystal clear (link). More on this later.

As institutions, the states are obsessed with power and meting out death, which are not unrelated. State wildlife managers still adhere to the archaic view that nature must be subdued to enable economic progress and provide killing opportunities for those who find gratification in such pursuits (link). Reflecting past, more regressive times, state game agencies and their commissions are mostly for and about white guys, as evidenced in their sexualized literature that surrounds sport hunting (link). Elsewhere, I have written about the numerous times I have been belittled and ridiculed by the thugs who lead Wyoming’s Game and Fish Department, because I am a woman standing in opposition to the state’s destructive policies, and thus not an enfranchised member of their clientelle… nor apparently  even worthy of being treated respectfully (link).

But nothing rankles state wildlife managers more than a perceived threat to their power from the federal government. Any federal restrictions on their ability to kill things are seen as an anathema — especially when it comes to large carnivores such as grizzlies that these managers see as competitors for opportunities to sell licenses to hunt elk, deer, and moose (link). Never mind that they depend on welfare payments from the federal government in the form of huge annual grants. Never mind that the weight of scientific evidence shows that weather, habitat, and sport hunting govern population dynamics of large herbivores far more than does predation.

It is no surprise that the states have demanded that the FWS revoke the few requirements being imposed as a condition for removal of ESA protections and instead substitute handshake agreements.  And they have demanded that the FWS eliminate provisions for triggers that could lead to reinstating ESA protections if the states fall down on the job and the bear population tanks.  They also reject provisions for monitoring habitat 5 years after delisting, especially the current FWS requirement that such monitoring be “in perpetuity.” In essence, the states are saying “trust us” with the future of the grizzly bear, even though their historic hostility toward bears was the main reason why this species ended up as an endangered species 40 years ago.

At the recent meeting of state and federal bear managers, the states were brazen enough to press FWS even further by insisting that they be allowed to manage for a population decline.  This would make grizzly bears the only species in the history of the Endangered Species Act where population decline was an explicit post-delisting goal.

The consequences of such a policy would likely be catastrophic for Yellowstone’s grizzly bears, which are the members of slowest reproducing land mammal species in North America, faced with unprecedented threats from climate change and human population growth. According to one model employed by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, the population may already be decline, the likely result of a spike in across-the-board mortality that began more than a decade ago (link). Indeed, some experts fear that the population could already be at a tipping point, headed towards a crash if bear deaths continue to mount.

Recovery Target of 500 Was “Pulled Out of the Government’s Ass”

Put simply, the current threshold of 500 bears set for determining population recovery by the FWS is far too low. And it is this number that is driving much of the states’ rhetoric as well as backing the FWS into a corner of its own making.  As a bit of historical context, grizzly bears in Yellowstone were once part of a contiguous population of many thousands of grizzly bears that extended from the Bering Strait to central Mexico. But European settlers managed to wipe out over 95% of the bears in the western United States in little less than 100 years. By the time Yellowstone’s bears were given ESA protections in 1975, they were down to perhaps 300 to 350 animals totally isolated from grizzly bears anywhere else on Earth (link).

Under federal protections that prohibited hunting and excessive killing, the population had stabilized at around 350 bears by 1992 when the federal government revised its grizzly bear recovery plan. In the plan, the government adopted 500 animals as the recovery target, largely because that was considered to be a generous increase over what they thought they had at the time, with little other justification. The states, already agitating to delist the population and renew a sport hunt, resisted higher recovery numbers.

One expert, who advised the FWS in the recovery planning process, later offered this: “The FWS basically pulled this number out of its ass.” He and a number of scientists argued — then and since —  that 500 animals, only about 27% of which are capable of breeding, was far from enough, especially since the Yellowstone population was (and is) entirely isolated.

Since 1992, scientists’ understanding of endangered species recovery has advanced greatly. Today, there is scientific consensus that an interconnected population of populations, or “meta-population”, of as many as 6,000 bears is needed to ensure long term persistence in the face of rapid change, as is occurring now (link). This would necessitate reconnecting Yellowstone to other ecosystems in the Northern Rockies, including Glacier, which boasts the largest population of grizzlies. Numerous analyses have been done showing that ample habitat is available to achieve a recovered meta-population of grizzly bears. In light of today’s scientific understanding, a recovery target of 500 isolated mammals does not pass the laugh test – except where politics, rather than science, rules.

Nodding ever so slightly towards the newer science, the FWS included in its conditions for removing ESA protections a provision that limited the number of bears that could be killed by hunting, saying that if the population, now estimated at 717 animals, dropped below 674, hunting would stop. And, the agency stated that maintaining at least 600 bears is important to the population’s genetic health, and that if the population dropped to or below 500 animals, “the population would not be considered demographically recovered.” Importantly, the FWS encouraged—but did not require–connectivity between Yellowstone and other grizzly bear populations.

But the states are having none of this. Instead, they are demanding that the FWS remove all language that might even encourage managing to connect populations. They are asking that hunting be allowed to continue until the population hits 600, not 674 individuals. Perhaps most disturbing is their rejection of the FWS’ claims that a population of fewer than 500 would be considered in peril, indicating that the states may not be willing to sustain even this minimum number of bears.

Instead, the states argue that adherence to the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation is good enough.

The States’ Answer to Grizzly Bear Recovery: The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation

In lieu of the FWS’ meager post-delisting restrictions, the states maintain that grizzly bears would be fine because they will be governed according to principles of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation (link).  This model argues that hunters are the major if not sole drivers of wildlife conservation. The Model espouses a fanciful rendering of history in which hunters have been the primary agents of wildlife protection, and have benefited not only targeted big game species, but all other species as well. Advocates of the Model claim that this ”just so” history is a prescription for the future, and that, to be effective, conservation must be based on providing hunters and trappers hunting and trapping opportunities as repayment for their presumed ardent support of all things preservable.

But the Model is, in fact, a “just so” story designed to serve a political purpose. It is not based on a comprehensive or accurate understanding of history. Among other powerful critiques, Thomas Dunlap’s Saving America’s Wildlife: Ecology and the American Mind: 1850-1990, shows wildlife conservation to be the product of efforts by non-hunters as well as hunters – and that hunters have actually persecuted and striven to eliminate a number of species under the rubric of “varmints” and “vermin”. Read: carnivores such as grizzly bears, wolves, and mountain lions.

It is a fact that the major wildlife and environmental laws enacted from the 1960’s to the present, including the Endangered Species Act and the Wilderness Act, were NOT passed due to the influence of hunters, but rather due to the efforts of a broad-based national constituency. According to Department of Interior data, hunter numbers have been shrinking in recent decades, and the primary “consumers” of wildlife are increasingly those who watch, rather than kill, wildlife. Simply put, those who value wildlife alive for moral, aesthetic, spiritual and scientific reasons are the biggest force behind wildlife conservation today—not hunters or trappers.

And, even if hunters did contribute something to wildlife conservation in the past, this does not mean that they should dominate the policy process now. The fact is, as I noted earlier, those advocating preservation rather than hunting of grizzly bears constituted over 99% of those who submitted comments to the FWS during the period during which the public had an opportunity to comment on the proposal to remove ESA protections. Overwhelming opposition to delisting was similarly expressed during the last 9 public processes that occurred over the last 15 years (link). Yet the FWS and state wildlife managers are catering to less than 1% of hunters and ranchers who expressed the a desire to kill bears, under the guise of a “Model” that is, in reality, nothing more than a myth.

Knowing that they are flying in the face of public opposition, the states are now ducking the hunting issue, while attempting to rewrite history.

 Of Trophy Hunting and Human-caused Mortality

Although state officials have been advocating a return to hunting grizzly bears for over 20 years, recently codified in their state plans, they asked for the first time ever in their May letter to the FWS  that hunting not be mentioned in the delisting Rule. Why? Because of the tsunami of public protest against trophy hunting grizzly bears – and against trophy hunting more broadly—that has occurred in the last months and years. Since at least the early 1990s, the overwhelming majority of the American public has disapproved of killing wildlife for fun and ego-gratification, rather than for food.

It must be noted that wildlife managers in the states of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana have not had a change of heart. Rather, here they espouse Lefty Gomez’s epithet: “if you don’t throw it, they can’t hit it.”

As part of their plans for driving the Yellowstone grizzly bear population down to basement levels, the states are also seeking permission to kill more bears, even bears that have not been involved in conflicts with humans. Under the post-delisting Memorandum of Agreement developed by state managers, as many as 72 bears could be killed per year. To facilitate this outcome, the states are pushing the FWS to remove any mention in the Rule of excessive human-caused bear mortality as a problem — even though this was one of the major reasons that grizzlies were listed in the first place and continue to be threatened. Ironically, all grizzly bear management agencies, including the states, have prioritized co-existence practices and voiced support for reducing bear deaths. Indeed, progress in this area has been perhaps the key reason that delisting is even being discussed today.

The states are now demanding that the FWS rewrite history, ignore science, and be silent on the need to place limits on killing bears. Instead the states want the FWS to help pave the way to killing even more bears after delisting. If the current level of killing was not enough of a problem now, the states would guarantee a crisis soon after delisting.

But wouldn’t the FWS reinstate ESA protections if the population crashes under the heel of state management? Not if the states also gets the FWS to remove any of the current provisions in the Rule that would automatically lead to a relisting process.

States Seek Responsibility without Accountability

The FWS has so far included a few triggers (which many consider inadequate) that would potentially lead to relisting. One is if the states fail to adequately fund post-delisting monitoring and management requirements. If funding is inadequate enough to indirectly jeopardize the population, the FWS currently provides assurances that it will step in and begin deliberations that could lead to relisting Yellowstone bears. The states are asking FWS to strip this provision.

The FWS also requires that the states and federal land managers commit “in perpetuity” to a post-delisting habitat monitoring program outlined in the Conservation Strategy, which is a companion document to the delisting Rule. This is a tacit admission by the FWS that the future will not necessarily look like the past, and that the government must keep watch over the quality of the bear’s habitat.  The collapse of two key bear foods, whitebark pine and cutthroat trout, over the last few decades demonstrate how quickly habitat can deteriorate (link). But predictably, the states want monitoring after the usual 5-year post-delisting period to be eliminated.

The states are also requesting that all other requirements pertaining to population distribution and composition be eliminated and replaced by the Memorandum of Agreement among the states. But the MOA is a killing, not a conservation policy (link). Furthermore, the MOA is a handshake agreement, and thus completely discretionary. Given the states’ notorious anti-carnivore histories (yes, despite propaganda to the contrary, they have indeed treated carnivores badly), why should they be trusted with a handshake?

The ball is in the FWS’s court to either accept or reject the states’ demands.

Will FWS Bow to the Bullies, or Defer to the Wishes of the Broader Public?

So far, the FWS’s leaders, most notably Director Dan Ashe, have demonstrated an unqualified desire to placate the states rather than uphold the ESA when it comes to dealing with grizzly bears (link). Unprecedented public outcry on behalf of bears seems to have made no difference. Nor has harsh criticism by numerous independent scientists, including Drs. Jane Goodall and E.O. Wilson. Why?

Because the FWS is enslaved to the narrative that delisting of grizzly bears (and wolves) is needed to “save” the the ESA. This seems to translate into obsequious cow-towing to the states. Elsewhere, I have written that this story has zero justification (link). Hatched in the mid-1990’s, the narrative has taken on a life of its own and is now embedded in the culture of the FWS where it seems impervious to critical examination.

As outrageous, the FWS’s point person for delisting Yellowstone grizzly bears is Deputy Regional Director Matt Hogan, who was formerly the head lobbyist of Safari Club International, one of the hunting groups that stand to benefit directly from a grizzly bear trophy hunting (link). And equally outrageously, the FWS also contracted with a company that services the oil and gas industry, headed up by an ex-Haliburton executive, to conduct the scientific peer review of the delisting Rule (link). The reviewers predictably gave the Rule a green light. Conflict of interest, anyone?

In response, the Oglala Sioux, one of fifty Tribes opposed to delisting, have requested a Congressional investigation of the matter (link). The Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) letter says: “the FWS is not, the evidence suggests, conducting the process in good faith with either the OST or any other tribal nation.” Or the rest of the nation, I would add.

Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell, who has yet to respond, should see this as an opportunity to correct the FWS’ tragic course on delisting, and support the Park Service’s efforts to introduce some sanity in the process. It is the centennial of the National Park Service, after all. She should respect the views of the Tribes, and comply with legal requirements to consult with them on the fate of the bear. She should heed the advice of scientists who advocate caution. She should uphold principles of democracy and serve the interests of the majority of Americans who want to see the grizzly bear protected, not hunted. And she should clean house at the FWS while she is at it.

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

After the spear hunt: We must fight to protect Canada’s iconic bears

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/after-the-spear-outrage-we-must-fight-to-protect-canadas-iconic-bears/article31447415/?utm_source=Shared+Article+Sent+to+User&utm_medium=E-mail:+Newsletters+/+E-Blasts+/+etc.&utm_campaign=Shared+Web+Article+Links
by JULIUS STRAUSS
Contributed to The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016 3:34PM EDT
Strauss is a B.C.-based bear viewing guide and member of the Commercial Bear Viewing Association

The killing of a black bear by a U.S. hunter with a spear this week in Alberta has caused public outrage.

What has shocked is not so much the cruelty involved – the bear survived its initial injuries and ran off into the forest only to die later – but that the bear had been baited, and the act was legal.
The hunter, Josh Bowmar from Ohio, went on to celebrate the feat by posting a video of the killing on YouTube replete with footage from a GoPro he had attached to the spear.

Another hunter said Mr. Bowmar had “cojones” for being willing to approach the bear on foot, as it rummaged around a baited barrel that had been put out specifically for the purpose.

For a small minority, such a feat is something to crow about on social media.

Whether it is the trophy hunting of grizzly bears in British Columbia or the spear-hunting of a baited black bear in Alberta, there are sites on the internet that pore over the details of the kill, boasting of the endeavour.

Increasingly, however, there is a chasm between this small minority and the rest of Canadians who see such practices as outdated and morally repugnant.

Alberta banned the grizzly hunt more than a decade ago after the number of bears in the province fell to dangerously low numbers. But it still sanctions hunting black bears with bait.

In neighbouring British Columbia, trophy hunters still shoot between 250 and 300 grizzly bears a year. In B.C. the arguments against grizzly hunting have become increasingly persuasive in recent years.

Bear-viewing, a growing industry in which tourists pay to visit specialized lodges where they can safely watch wild bears, is now worth more than ten times to the province what grizzly hunting is.

A recent poll found overwhelming opposition: around 90 per cent of British Columbians have said they want to see grizzly hunting banned.

The government has so far stuck to its guns, so to speak. It maintains that the hunt is scientifically sustainable.

But even that argument took a blow recently when official figures showed that a hunted population in the Southern Rockies had dropped by 40 per cent in less than decade under government management.

As provincial elections near in British Columbia – they are due next spring – both the NDP and the Liberals have been jockeying for position with the electorate.

The arguments over whether grizzly hunting in B.C. should be allowed to continue, and whether black bears in Alberta should be baited and killed with spears, are raging in small circles.

Environmentalists are understandably furious with present policies and some warn that without change certain bears populations will disappear forever.

Trophy hunters fear that any erosion of their rights to shoot bears will lead to a wholesale onslaught by the government on their rural lifestyles.

Wildlife managers, meanwhile, spend days in endless meetings debating minute changes to hunting zones, seasons and what they term allowable harvest.

Meanwhile, out in the real world, attitudes have changed.

Many Canadians were incensed last year when a U.S. dentist shot Cecil, a prized African lion, who was lured out of a protected area and killed for its pelt.

They are ready to accept culling in areas where animals overpopulate, but bears never do that because their biology means that they have fewer cubs in times of poor food availability. Most would certainly condone killing an animal in self-defense.

Alberta has now promised to ban spear hunting – but that’s not enough. The concept of killing a bear – an animal that is so iconic – just so its skin can adorn a sofa is something the majority now finds unacceptable.

It’s time that Canada did better by its bears.

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Grizzly Group Takes Aim at Trophy Hunting, Sets Sights on Provincial Election Candidates

Above the stone fireplace in the comfortable Saanich home, photos of grizzly bears are pinned in a casual collage.

Cubs are shown frolicking in the grass, a curious bear stands on his hind legs looking through a camera lens and, jarringly, at the top, is a massive grizzly lying lifeless in the grass, eyes closed, claws digging into the dirt, as two jubilant hunters smile into the camera.

The photo, typical of those found in hunting magazines that promote the chance to travel to Super, Natural B.C. to kill grizzles, provokes a visceral response among hunt opponents and a newly-formed group wants to harness that gut reaction.

Justice for B.C. Grizzlies is led by a small core of volunteers who, for years, have tried to end the trophy hunt by arguing the facts — such as the uncertainty of population numbers, studies that show bear viewing generates far more in visitor spending than bear hunting and — what should be the clincher for politicians, but, curiously seems to be ignored — polls clearly demonstrate that British Columbians are overwhelmingly against the hunt.

In the leadup to next spring’s provincial election, the group is aiming for hearts and minds by asking B.C. voters and political candidates to consider the hunt from a moral and ethical stance.

We are the moral high ground. We are not the scientists,” said Barb Murray, who has fought against the hunt for more than a decade.

We can speak with our hearts…We all have a heart and a brain and we know wrong from right. Tweet: ‘We just have to stand up & be counted and make our politicians be accountable to the majority’ http://bit.ly/2bkTYEX #bcpoli #trophyhuntWe just have to stand up and be counted and make our politicians be accountable to the majority on this ethical issue.”

The hunt is outdated and archaic, pointed out supporter Val Murray.

It’s 2016, and stopping the hunt is morally and ethically right,” she said.

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Justice for B.C Grizzlies will officially launch in September and members will then start the hard work of pinning down politicians and candidates and bending the ears of friends and neighbours.

Supporters will be asked to sign a pledge to actively lobby to end the hunt, and ask candidates in their riding where they stand.

The group will work alongside others fighting the same battle, such as Raincoast Conservation, the David Suzuki Foundation and Pacific Wild, but will take a different approach in hopes of attracting those who have not thought about the morality of killing an apex predator — listed as a species of special concern by the federal Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada — in order to put a head on a wall or rug on the floor.

In 2001, in the dying days of the NDP government, a moratorium was imposed on trophy hunting until more scientific data could be compiled, but, as soon as Gordon Campbell’s BC Liberals were elected, the moratorium was rescinded.

That decision has stuck, despite the growing distaste of British Columbians and a 2004 European Union ban on imports of all B.C. grizzly parts after an analysis found the hunt was unsustainable.

Polls show the number of people who oppose the hunt is steadily growing, with an October 2015 Insights West poll finding that 91 per cent of British Columbians and 84 per cent of Albertans say they oppose hunting animals for sport. The margin of error for B.C. is plus or minus 3.1 per cent.

Along the way, hunt opponents have gathered some high profile support, including Martyn Brown, former chief of staff to Gordon Campbell and former deputy minister of tourism, trade and investment.

Brown agrees that putting pressure on politicians and political candidates is the way to “make the B.C. government bow to the wishes of the 91 per cent of British Columbians who say they don’t support it.”

Grizzly Group Takes Aim at Trophy Hunting, Sets Sights on Provincial Election Candidates http://www.desmog.ca/2016/08/15/grizzly-group-takes-aim-trophy-hunting-sets-sights-provincial-election-candidates  @christyclarkbc

Photo published for Grizzly Group Takes Aim at Trophy Hunting, Sets Sights on Provincial Election Candidates

Grizzly Group Takes Aim at Trophy Hunting, Sets Sights on Provincial Election Candidates

Above the stone fireplace in the comfortable Saanich home, photos of grizzly bears are pinned in a casual collage.

desmog.ca

  • Smog Canada, Brown wrote “In our hearts, most of us know that the grisly business of trophy hunting is not right. Rather, it demeans us as the planet’s apex species.”

So, why does the Christy Clark Liberal government insist on continuing the hunt?

The two main arguments are that the grizzly population is healthy, with an estimated 15,000 bears, and the hunt puts money into the economy.

But government estimates of population numbers are based on models and expert opinions, not a count of bears, and many researchers believe numbers are much lower — possibly in the 6,000 range — and kills much higher than the approximately 300 grizzlies killed by hunters each year that the province reports.

A study by Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Simon Fraser University, University of Victoria and the Hakai Institute, which analyzed 35 years of grizzly mortality data, found kill limits are regularly exceeded.

At least nine sub-populations of grizzlies in B.C are on the verge of disappearing and, in addition to the hunt, grizzlies face disappearing habitat, poachers, and vehicle collisions.

The current hunt subjects grizzly populations to considerable risk. Substantial overkills have occurred repeatedly and might be worse than thought because of the many unknowns in management,” Raincoast biologist Kyle Artelle said after the study was published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE.

Following the Raincoast study the David Suzuki Foundation and the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre requested an investigation by Auditor General Carol Bellringer, who agreed to look at whether the province is effectively managing the grizzly bear population.

Bellringer is expected to issue a report in the spring and hunt opponents are crossing their fingers it will be released before the election.

They are also hoping that the departure of Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett, who has said he will not run in the election, will help their cause.

Bennett, a key member of Clark’s cabinet, has been a strong supporter of the hunt.

On the financial front, a study by the Center for Responsible Travel, in conjunction with Stanford University, found that, in 2012, bear-viewing groups in the Great Bear Rainforest generated “more than 12 times more in visitor spending than bear hunting.”

Bear-watching also directed $7.3-million to government coffers compared to $660,500 from hunters and created 510 jobs a year compared to 11 jobs created by guide outfitters.

The overwhelming conclusion is that bear viewing in the Great Bear Rainforest generates far more value to the economy, both in terms of total visitor expenditures and gross domestic product and provides greater employment opportunities and returns to government than does bear hunting,” says the study.

However the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C. is a powerful lobby and a generous contributor to the Liberal Party.

Between 2011 and May 2015 the association contributed almost $37,000 to the Liberal Party and a little over $6,000 to theNDP.

Jefferson Bray, owner of the Great Bear Chalet, in the Bella Coola Valley, in a letter to Bellringer, wrote “This global obscenity continues because it is lobbied, bought and paid for.”

Although the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C. is the voice of those arguing to keep the grizzly hunt, the bulk of softer support comes from hunters who belong to the B.C. Wildlife Federation, who are afraid the end of the grizzly hunt would be the thin end of the wedge, said Barb Murray.

But Justice for B.C Grizzlies has no problem with those who hunt for food and the group has hunters among its’ supporters, she emphasized.

I am a hunter and I have never shot a bear,” said David Lawrie, a former forests engineer with the B.C. government and an inaugural member of Justice for B.C. Grizzlies.

And, when it comes to the government being capable of providing us with the number of bears, I don’t believe it. They can’t even provide us with the number of trees in the annual allowable cut and trees don’t walk,” Lawrie said.

This summer, the Wildlife Federation supported a call by Green Party leader Andrew Weaver to require trophy hunters to pack out edible meat from grizzly bears, but the support was immediately dismissed by hunt opponents.

If Weaver’s bill is somehow approved, most of the muscles of the bears will be transported out of the bush and dumped into landfills in B.C. and beyond, while their heads and hides will continue to be transformed into rugs for living rooms and prizes for trophy rooms, “ Raincoast executive director Chris Genovali and Raincoast guide outfitter coordinator Brian Falconer wrote in an op-ed in the Times Colonist.

Weaver’s bill died when the session ended and a Green Party spokesman said Thursday that, ideally, Weaver wants to see a complete ban on grizzly trophy hunting in B.C.

As the government made it clear that is not on the cards, Andrew tabled the bill as an interim measure with the goal of making trophy hunting more costly and regulated, especially for out-of-province hunters,” Mat Wright said in an email.

The major hope for reversing the legislation lies with the NDP and, so far, the party has not decided where it is going with the contentious issue.

Environment critic George Heyman said in an interview that discussions have taken place in caucus and will continue once summer vacation is over.

We will be letting people know our decision before the election,” said Heyman.

We understand that over 90 per cent of British Columbians oppose it and we are taking it very seriously,” he said.

It is obvious many British Columbians do not trust the government’s numbers and conservation is the first principle for theNDP, Heyman said.

We understand the importance of conserving this iconic species and we will make a responsible decision,” he said.

Which is exactly what Justice for B.C. Grizzlies wants to see.

Image: Princess Lodges via Flickr

ANOTHER GRIZZLY MOM KILLED; YEARLING CUBS WILL GO TO LIVING DEATH IN ZOO.

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MONTANA:  “Problem grizzly killed” reads the headline (article here). NO–the bear was not the problem; it was unaccommodating humans and a state that fails to protect bears with laws. For TWO YEARS these bears have been lured beyond the edge of their habitat by attractants: “…chickens, ducks and rabbits…pet and livestock food…” At least this time the word “kill” is used instead of “euthanize”–I’d go even further and say this bear was *executed* for the crimes of humans who refused to act in a way that kept their wild neighbors safe. Hefty fines would force rural homeowners to eliminate bear attractants; electric fencing is proven to save bears. Montana is not adequately protecting bears from human nuisances.

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imagesGREAT NEWS: Citizens’ initiative I-177 has QUALIFIED to appear on the November ballot! Want to help eliminate cruel and archaic traps on our citizen-owned public lands here in Big Sky country? Visit Montanans for Trap-free Public Lands. Congrats to all who worked relentlessly to collect the thousands of signatures required by the state!

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
8023

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

0102030405060708090100110120130BonesRugTrophySkullSkin2

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.