The first grizzly bear hunting season near Yellowstone National Park since 1974 will take place this September after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service voted to allow the hunting of up to 22 bears.
According to a report by the New York Times, it was discovered just after 1974 that grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park had sharply declined in numbers and were then listed as an endangered species.
In 2017, grizzly bears were removed from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Endangered Species Act protection because it was declared the bears were successfully recovered in Yellowstone, with more than 700 grizzlies have been reported in the area.
The decision to allow hunting comes after the Wyoming Game and Fish Commision voted unanimously in favor of the hunt on May 23rd, according National Geographic.
Now, several states will allow grizzly hunting, although heavily regulated, because the species are no longer considered endangered.
In Wyoming, 22 grizzly bears will be allowed to be hunted and killed, 12 of which can be females, according to National Geographic. Idaho will only allow one grizzly to be hunted and Montana will not have a grizzly bear season this year.
No hunting will take place in Yellowstone itself because the bears are still under protection within the park. Bears are also a big draw for visitors to Yellowstone, so park officials made sure that tourism would not be impacted by the new hunting season.
Soon, grizzly bear hunting may also be allowed near Glacier National Park, where the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service is in the process of removing another large population of grizzlies from its protections.
The new ruling has been met with much controversy despite the assurance of wildlife managers that the hunting will not affect the species. Many conservationists feel that the recovered numbers are an exaggeration or have been miscalculated.
Additionally, the threat of climate change on habitats and species worldwide has many worried that hunting will just jumpstart a rapid decline in the grizzly populations.
The New York Times also reported that 200 tribal nations have called for grizzly bears to be relocated to tribal lands where they can be protected.
Grizzly bears are considered trophy animals, meaning that people will hunt them purely for sport and not for food.
“Grizzlies are highly intelligent animals that deserve our reverence and respect,” wildlife photographer Thomas D Mangelsen told National Geographic. “Wyoming is treating them like surplus trees that can be logged. How much dignity is there in blowing away an animal so that one individual can claim bragging rights and turn a grizzly into a mounted head on the wall or bear rug for the floor?”
There is still a possibility that grizzly hunting season will be postponed or canceled this year due to a number lawsuits that have already been filed.
By Kay Vandette, Earth.com Staff Writer