States Have a Grisly Plan for Grizzly Bears

By on May 5, 2016 with 4 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Last night, I participated in a two-on-two debate about trophy hunting on the popular program “Intelligence Squared,” with the live audience rejecting the resolution that hunting promotes conservation. So much of the discussion turned on the escapades of globe-trotting trophy hunters who slay the world’s rarest animals, yet claim somehow that they are doing a favor to wildlife. It’s a case again of how people bent on hurting animals strain to assign a social benefit to their actions in order to confuse the public, obscure their motives, and thwart our efforts to drive humane reform.

We have our own trophy hunting controversy revving up in the United States that may rival the killing of Cecil the lion in generating public disapproval and disgust. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has proposed removing federal protections for grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and state wildlife agencies in the area are poised to unleash trophy hunters to kill North America’s biggest predators – not for food or management, but for bragging rights.

This week, Dr. Jane Goodall and 58 other prominent scientists submitted a letter to FWS denouncing the plan. The letter questions the FWS finding that the grizzly bear population in the area has achieved long-term viability and stability. “There is far too much uncertainty reflected in the current science to justify such a conclusion; rather, the best available science and the precautionary principle demands continued federal monitoring of this vulnerable population, which will only happen with continued ESA protection,” they stated.

Yellowstone’s grizzly bears are in the news right now, after FWS revealed that Scarface, an older bear who has been called one of the park’s most famous grizzlies, was shot and killed outside the park last November. FWS is investigating that shooting because the bears are still protected under the ESA. But if the new proposal goes through, it could be open season on dozens of bears, including the world famous grizzly 399. These animals, much beloved characters in the natural drama that is Yellowstone, can find themselves in the gunsights of trophy hunters seeking a wall mount or rug in their homes, as the animals stray beyond a national park boundary invisible to them.

The FWS proposal to delist grizzly bears is premature and it carries enormous consequences, especially for the gateway communities that draw millions of tourists who visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, in the hope of catching a glimpse of its famous grizzly bears. In The Humane Economy – in relation to the economics of trophy hunting versus wildlife watching – I write how the park and the grizzly bears are an economic engine for the Yellowstone region, generating hundreds of millions in economic activity last year alone. Take out the grizzly bears, and make any survivors wary, and you’ve just removed the star of the show.

Grizzly bear populations are not resilient to human persecution. Human-caused mortality contributes to more grizzly deaths than any other single cause, even without trophy hunting. If we add that to the mix of threats, including habitat loss and climate change, these animals could again face great jeopardy as a community.

Join me to voice your opposition to this ill-conceived proposal. Tell FWS to maintain protections for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s grizzly bears under the ESA. The comment period closes on May 10th so it is vital you act now.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

Subscribe to the Blog

Enter your email address below to receive updates each time we publish new content.


Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. David Bernazani says:

    I am a resident of California, whose very flag has a grizzly bear on it, but as all of us in the state know, no live grizzlies in the wild, due to foolish and thoughtless eradication policies almost a century ago. I hope the U.S. government won’t make that same mistake again.

  2. KarinB says:

    What I find utterly amazing (and unacceptable) is that we spend millions of dollars bringing species back from the brink of extinction and as soon as we have succeeded both state and federal officials allow hunting of those just saved. For example, years ago I read that we spent on average $250,000 for each wolf saved and/or reintroduced into his/her natural environment. Then wolves were delisted, not based on science but on politics. And immediately thereafter it was hunting season. IMO, each “hunter” who killed a wolf owes us taxpayers $250,000. The politicians who allow this need to be jailed for misappropriation of taxpayer money.

    And I am not even touching issues of ethics, of animals being sentient and their lives having intrinsic value to them, of how utterly deprived of moral those who enjoy killing for fun must be, etc., etc,

  3. debbie catalina says:

    In reading the draft delisting document of the US Fish and Wildlife Service this morning I saw no evidence that they has been study of the impacts that reducing bear populations will have on botanical biodiversity despite ample documentation the bears are the apex species that is the primary seed disperser in this habitat.
    There’s no indication that regulatory mechanisms to protect bears after delisting have even been examined as to whether they can do the job, in accordance of ESA’s requirements for delistings.
    What’s more, its reasonable to assume that delisting of the bears will increase rather than decrease the local public’s tolerance of the bears just as it did in the Great Lake Region to the wolves when the wolves were delisted.
    A suit against this action should immediately be brought on behalf of the bears and the people of the United States for the gross violation by the USFWS of their fiduciary responsibilities as the trustees of the wildlands and wildlife held in trust for the American people by the federal government of the United States.
    According to associates of mine, the ESA requires that the adequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms to safeguard the animals be established before delisting an endangered species. They cited ESA (sec. 4(a)(1)(D)).
    Its my hope that those with the means will examine weather the ESA has been so violated.

  4. Kim delson says:



Share a Comment

The HSUS encourages open discussion, and we invite you to share your opinion on our issues. By participating on this page, you are agreeing to our commenting policy.
Please enter your name and email address below before commenting. Your email address will not be published.