Grizzly bear war starts in earnest

By on June 10, 2016 with 14 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

The HSUS today fired the first shot in its legal campaign to prevent trophy hunting of grizzly bears.

With the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service having announced plans to remove federal Endangered Species Act protections for grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, the states of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana are salivating at the prospect of opening a trophy hunting season for the first time in 40 years on North America’s second largest carnivore (only polar bears are larger). In Wyoming, the state’s Game and Fish Commission has hastily – without giving the public enough time to weigh in – rammed through a management plan to put the hunting framework in place. Today The HSUS, along with the Center for Biological Diversity and local wildlife filmmaker Jim Laybourn, filed a lawsuit in Wyoming state court challenging the Commission’s failure to provide adequate time for public notice and comment on its deadly plan.

Trophy hunting of grizzlies is disgraceful. It snuffs out the rarest and often the fittest of animals and undermines conservation goals. What’s more, it hurts local economies built around eco-tourism, since sighting a bear is the most coveted wildlife experience for millions of people throughout the world who trek to Yellowstone and Grand Teton every year. The small fraternity of American trophy hunters who travel around the world to kill rare animals for decorations and prizes will now have a big prize here in the United States to chase and kill.

It is a fundamental principle of democracy that citizens have a voice in government decisions. This is especially important when it comes to management of wildlife, which states and the federal government are entrusted with preserving for future generations. Wyoming’s short-sighted plan to sell thrill kills to the highest bidders is not only scientifically and ethically unjustifiable, it is undemocratic. Seven unelected commissioners ignored the will of the public and rushed through a plan –without following procedure required by state law – that risks destroying our collective wildlife heritage and draining tens of millions of dollars from the local economy. Decisions of this magnitude should not – and legally cannot – be made without giving all stakeholders an opportunity to make their voices heard.

American trophy hunters are waging a war on America’s native carnivores already.  In the past decade alone, they’ve shot more than 29,000 cougars in the United States, and tens of thousands of black bears. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service believes that there are 750 grizzly bears now living in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. That number is contested by other grizzly bear researchers who say the animals face grave existential threats from a loss of food resources due to climate change. Leading biologists agree that this fragile population cannot sustain the additional pressure from trophy hunting. Further, a recent scientific study shows that when states allow trophy hunting of carnivores in a misguided attempt to “manage” the species, the rate of poaching actually increases, multiplying threats to the species.

At The HSUS, we are dedicated to working with wildlife managers to reduce human-wildlife conflict and to ensure that wild animals are allowed to thrive without persecution. We hope that this lawsuit will be a wake-up call reminding Wyoming wildlife officials that they cannot continue to favor the narrow interests of elite trophy hunters over sound science, economic health for the region, and the opinions of the majority of the American public who want to see protections maintained.

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

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  1. P Clarke says:

    While this information is great – I wish all these organizations would make it easy for people to find the petitions to sign. They need the petitions to be “front and center”. People will not take the time to search so every article from every organization should have a prominent link to both a petition and donation for whatever the cause. I have wasted endless time in different articles that come to my email and sometimes I can’t find any link at all.

    I got my petition link from one of the people posting a comment otherwise I wouldn’t have had one to share and sign.

    Please Wayne Pacelle I hope you or your staff reads about this – it isn’t only your organization – it is Green Life and many others. The sad truth is because of silly little details like this – you are missing out on many many signatures.

  2. Dawn says:

    The grizzly bear species on the mainland US is actually smaller than the subspecies Kodiak which has been separated from the rest of the grizzly species on the Kodiak islands of Alaska for a very long time. There are disagreements as to whether the Kodiak or Polar bears are the largest bears in the world.

  3. KIKUE NISHIO says:


  4. Jessica Hausman says:

    How can we stop this and let Wyoming know how much of the public is against this cruel and wasteful trophy hunting, which should be deemed illegal in all the United States.

  5. Elizabeth Marino says:

    Trophy hunting needs to become a thing of the past! Right along with hunting and trapping! It is disgraceful and shouldn’t be tolerated anywhere in the world.

  6. julie titcombe says:

    Humans have no right or excuse to allow the killing of our magnificent wildlife. We live in the 21st century and it is about time humans stop killing iconic species for their selfish, irresponsible, cruel, disgusting , hobbies. This depletes our planet of the most beautiful, whilst the balance of nature is taken from us by ignorant and brutal people. Why are authorities still allowing these atrocities to continue hwhen people worldwide are speaking out to protect our world. Humans are self destructive when killing the balance of nature.

  7. Anita Rosinola says:

    I don’t believe there should be any trophy hunting. Animals weren’t put here for us to make trophies out of. We need to fight this hunting for trophies!

  8. Anne Clarke says:

    Protect one of America’s necessary keystone animals….grizzly bears!!! They are very important to each
    ecosystem in which they live! They have as much right to be alive as we do! They are not alive on this esrth to become someone’s trophy or besr skin rug! Kerp them listed as endangered in the Endangered Species Act.

  9. gladys smith says:

    Trophy Hunters be damned !!!!!

  10. Dave Wipper says:

    I suspect making decisions regarding the welfare of wild animals is difficult, especially when the issue of delisting an endangered species is involved. However, here is a fact that I thought I would point out:

    • Elephants fall into the Critically Endangered to Vulnerable category according to the World Wildlife Federation, yet there are more than 500,000 elephants world wide
    • The grizzly bear population in the entire continental United States is approximately 2,000.

    Based on the comparison of these numbers, how can anyone even considered taking them off the Endangered Species list?

  11. Michele McCowan says:

    Bears are NOT Carnivores. They are Omnivores and eat a diet consisting of plants and meat or insects. They are typically scavengers and eat a lot of carcasses left by other predators.

  12. Ernie Meyer says:

    trophy hunters are neandrethals

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