JACKSON (WNE) Hunting outfitters, wildlife guides, photographers and professional conservationists attended a briefing by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department on plans for the first Wyoming grizzly bear hunt in 41 years, with complaints about the number of bears involved and about hunting near roads.
Game and Fish carnivore biologist Dan Thompson was at the gathering at the National Museum for Wildlife Art on Tuesday and described a proposal to hunt up to 23 bears.
Wyoming plans to hunt grizzly bears differently inside than it will outside a line that runs through Teton County and the rest of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, he said. Inside the line, within the zone called a “demographic monitoring area,” there will be stricter regulations imposed by a Wyoming, Idaho and Montana agreement that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service required. Although a maximum of 11 bears can be killed here, no more than two can be sows and so the state is limiting hunters afield to two at a time.
Thompson pointed out what he viewed as safeguards for grizzlies in this area. Factoring in the national parks and a buffer east of Teton Park, no-hunting zones along highways, the Wind River Indian Reservation and other areas, he said, some 43 percent of Wyoming’s portion of the monitoring area is off limits to grizzly hunting.
Conversely, past the line wildlife managers plan to use hunting to drive down numbers of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s outskirts grizzlies. They’re targeting another dozen bears there, but amid a much smaller population and without restrictions on sex.
“The DMA is where we have to demonstrate recovery,” Thompson said. “That doesn’t mean bears can’t be outside, but we’re honestly not promoting bears in that human-dominated landscape.”
Trinity Ranch manager Maury “Jonesy” Jones urged Game and Fish to broaden a proposed quarter-mile no-hunting buffer that lines each named state and federal highway in the monitoring area.
“From a public relations standpoint, it seems to me you should extend that to half a mile,” Jones said, “so that people on the road aren’t watching somebody on the road shooting a grizzly bear.”
Written comments are due by April 30. The Game and Fish Commission is scheduled to review the regulations — and either adopt, alter or kill the grizzly hunt — at a special May 23 meeting in Lander