In defiance of federal law, Wyoming passes illegal statute to allow grizzly bear hunts

By on February 20, 2019 with 8 Comments

Wyoming’s crusade to declare open season on grizzly bears hit an unprecedented low this week when Gov. Mark Gordon signed into law a statute that gives state officials the authority to open a trophy hunting season on grizzly bears and relocate bears to other states without federal authorization. The move from Wyoming comes in defiance of a federal court ruling last year, in response to a lawsuit brought by the Humane Society of the United States and our allies, that restored Endangered Species Act protections to grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Today, we and our allies once again put the state on notice that we are ready and willing to take any legal action necessary if Wyoming officials attempt to open a trophy hunt.

At one level, the bill that Gov. Gordon signed into law yesterday may be seen as a stunt meant to appease trophy hunters. State lawmakers know that a hunt in Wyoming would be in defiance of federal law, because grizzly bears are protected under the Endangered Species Act, the supreme law of the land protecting species at risk of extinction. One of the bill’s sponsors, state Senator Eli Bebout, admitted as much when he explained that state officials would be made into “convicted felons” if they follow through with a hunt.

Even so, we cannot take this new threat lightly, because Wyoming has a history of making desperate attempts to allow hunters from around the world to shoot its grizzly bears. The state was on the verge of holding the first trophy hunting season for grizzlies in decades last fall, and only an eleventh-hour injunction won by the HSUS and our partners stopped what would have been the needless slaughter of 23 bears in that first season alone. That reprieve was extended when we subsequently won the ruling putting Wyoming’s bears back on the federal list of threatened species.

The Greater Yellowstone bear population is already troubled by an array of threats to survival, each directly or indirectly tied to human activity. The bears’ primary plant and animal food sources are disappearing due to climate change and as they are forced to range further from their core habitat areas in search of food, they are increasingly drawn into conflict with livestock operations. These conflicts inevitably prompt calls for lethal removals of grizzly bears, further exacerbating pressures on their population. Bears also routinely wander beyond the boundaries of Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, where killing bears is prohibited. In their encounters with humans since January 2015, 209 bears have died directly because of actions by poachers, cattle ranchers, and elk hunters, and via automobile accidents. This represents record levels of human-caused bear mortality. The number also does not include bears killed illegally by poachers, which, according to scientific studies, is considerable.

By passing a bill that authorizes state employees to violate federal law, and by signing it into law, Wyoming’s lawmakers and Gov. Gordon have established themselves as outliers with no regard for their own precious wildlife. But they are also wasting taxpayer resources and time that could be better spent on dealing with real problems the state and its citizens face. Wyoming’s grizzly bears belong to all Americans, and we will pursue every legal avenue to ensure that the state’s lawmakers do not wipe them out of existence.

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

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  1. Sally Palmer says:

    Thank you for keeping us aware that we cannot ugnore any attempts to undermine animal protection laws.

  2. Mary beth says:

    No more hunting bears!! Save lives

  3. Marian Prato says:

    This is an atrocity! How dare they go against federal laws protecting these bears! Yes the fight must continue to keep these barbaric individuals from following through on their plan!

  4. Rebecca Lane-Nohl says:

    These hunters just can’t wait to pull the trigger on innocent animals…murderers!!

    • Benjamin says:

      Rebecca Lane
      We legal hunters do far far more for animals then you do.

      Actually people like you are getting in the way of laws that would help increase Grizzly populations.

      Male bears love to kill Cubs to put their mother’s into estrus.

      If the state of Wyoming issued a select number of tags only for adult male grizzlies and kept the hunting of female bears Illegal that would actually help increase the population of Grizzly bears.

      Maybe you should read some books about bears? ……or perhaps some books about hunting.

      I’m going to recommend that you read The Politically Incorrect Guide to Hunting.

  5. Aldo Roosevelt says:

    I’ll start by stating that I love grizzly bears and am in awe of how beautiful they are. However, I have to correct some misinformation here…

    “grizzly bears are protected under the Endangered Species Act, the supreme law of the land protecting species at risk of extinction.”

    Grizzly bears are no longer at risk of extinction in the GYE, and thus do not require this protection…. This is evidenced by the following:

    “This represents record levels of human-caused bear mortality.”

    Bears are increasingly getting into trouble and wandering out of their historic range because the GYE is hitting it’s carrying capacity. There will continue to be an increase in human / bear conflict unless they are taken off the endangered species list.

    • Benjamin says:

      Yes Aldo Roosevelt…the Grizzlies aren’t endangered anymore which is why they are thinking about allowing hunting…not to mention that selectively hunting only male bears would actually help increase the population.

      Male bears like to kill Cubs to put their mothers into estrus.

      It would be wise for that state to issue hunting tags only for adult male bears and to only release a limited number of them based on the population of bears in their area.

      This will actually help increase the population of bears moreso then not allowing any hunting at all.

      Once we get their population levels up dramatically over the course of a few years then they can start issuing even more tags. I’m sure people would be willing to pay hundreds of dollars per tag.

      These people don’t seem to know much about bears though…..or hunting. If the anti-hunters get their way the Grizzlies will be worse off and it will take longer for their population levels to increase.

  6. Christopher Angus says:

    Benjamin and Aldo Roosevelt,

    I know those are old posts but even so thank you for your mindful comments based on knowledge of the great Grizzly of Wyoming. Hunters respect those animals as original occupants of the territory and welcome them to multiply more so than the tourists who often don’t understand or respect these majestic creatures.
    Best regards
    CA Crook County Wyoming

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