A 'Grizzly' Conversation; To Hunt or Not to Hunt

A man who shot a grizzly bear and a man who was attacked and injured by a grizzly joined almost 200 people in Cody last week to help decide how the bears will be managed in Wyoming.

The state took over management this summer after the US Fish and Wildlife Service took grizzlies off the endangered species list.

The future of grizzlies that move outside Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks is at stake.

Wyoming’s Game and Fish Department took over management of the bears at the end of July.

Wyoming’s Game and Fish large carnivore supervisor said getting input from Wyoming citizens is important.

Dan Thompson says, “There’s obviously a great deal of interest in hunting. And how that occurs, it’s controversial. There’s polarity and different viewpoints on it. But, that’s the beauty of this. There are a lot of opinions that we can gather by going to the public.”

The meeting is one of several held across the state and the most highly attended; 176 people came to this one.

The meeting schedule includes: Casper November 8, Laramie, Sheridan, Jackson, Pinedale, Green River, Cody, and Lander December 4th.

They all had something to say about how grizzly numbers should be counted, how grizzlies should be managed and what to do about grizzlies that get into trouble.

“Across the board people have been very respectful of each other, and listening to each other.”

One of the attendees was the leader of a group that hopes to hunt grizzlies.

President of the Western Bear Foundation, Joe Kondelis commented, “We’re thrilled about the process. We’re thrilled about the progress that we’re making.”

But, a retired ecologist from Cody says the bears should not have been de-listed.

“We do not have a recovered grizzly bear population.”

Chuck Neal says the demographic monitoring area around the parks is an artificial designation of appropriate grizzly habitat.

“Anything outside this so called demographic monitoring area will not be counted as a bear. They will simply be non-existent so the bears will be Willy Nilly killed off,” says Neal.

Four grizzlies were killed in the Cody area this fall. One was shot by a Cody hunter who says it charged him, twice.

Tev Kelley, “It was coming right at us, so I fired kind of a quick shot. Don’t even know where I aimed. It was just that quick. Ended up hitting it in the side of the face.”

Even with seven grizzlies killed in Wyoming this fall, “This year we’re going to be below mortality thresholds and moving forward work to reduce those potential conflicts with humans.

The the bear that was shot by the Cody hunter was later euthanized by Wyoming’s Game and Fish Department.

The meetings will be a chance for the public to learn more about all aspects of grizzly bear research, education and management in Wyoming and help shape grizzly bear conservation in the future.

Game and Fish biologists will open each meeting with a brief informative presentation on grizzly bear recovery and conservation, an overview of the major components of the grizzly bear management plan and what Game and Fish hopes to gain from discussions with the public.

Information about grizzly bear management and education efforts is available on the Game and Fish website.