I’d like to open up this post with a hot and highly controversial topic: the announcement by the Department of Interior regarding the recovery and delisting of the Yellowstone grizzly population. There it is folks. If you currently follow any conservation group, you are probably aware of the decision and the controversy that it has created. I am not going to get into the nitty-gritty details and point fingers at specific groups, or blame people for whether or not the decision was made out of emotion, but I will highlight some issues and how decisions like these impact us all.
Remember, this is not about hunting. People often get wrapped around the fact that simply because a species is delisted, they will immediately be hunted back to the point of extinction. Conservation is about proper game management by the state (i.e. Fish and Game) to keep populations under control, prevent the spread of disease and lower the chance, specifically in the case of grizzlies, of human interactions.
Keeping my personal feelings out of this topic is not easy, as I spend a good deal of time in grizzly country to fish, hunt or hike. I am aware of the fact that it is downright dangerous. We are very fortunate here in Idaho (aside from eastern parts of the state near Yellowstone) that we don’t have to constantly be on guard while we’re out doing the things we love in nature. For those of you who have not spent time in grizzly country, it is a humbling experience to come even within eyeshot of a 1,000-plus-pound bear. It will make you instantly realize that as a human, you are not at the top of the food chain.
Along these lines comes a serious predicament; grizzlies are often not afraid of humans, to the point where in places like Wyoming, bears even come to the sound of a gunshot because they know there is food readily available. Bear encounters are on the rise, specifically in the wilderness areas of Wyoming. Just recently, in a tragic turn of events, an experienced Wyoming hunting guide was killed in a bear attack, which - by the way - was not the first incident this year. Additionally, grizzlies are finding themselves closer and closer to urban environments, making human-bear encounters more likely. Recently, in Cody, Wyoming, a male grizzly bear was caught on a game camera in a residential neighborhood on the edge of town. Imagine looking into your backyard and running into that, or worse, imagine an actual encounter with a pet or a child.
So here, in my opinion, is the real issue: the fact that bears in the greater Yellowstone region will remain listed, despite years of scientific evidence, is a poor call by the Department of the Interior and there will be ramifications because of it. While I am not concerned about the park itself, the decision impacts the entirety of bear country in the region, including the rest of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. The last thing I want to see happen is another situation similar to the wolf problem, but with 1,000-pound bears.
The intent of this blog is just to spread the word about this issue and create a meaningful conversation. Please comment and share your thoughts, just keep those comments clean, respectful and professional.
Lastly, I have attached some links containing information about recent bear activity, including the incident of Mark Uptain's death in September. Please read his story and check out the GoFundMe established by his family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones.
Have a great day and remember to always Live your Passion!
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
KULR8 Montana News
KULR8 Montana News, Mark Uptain
GoFundMe, Mark Uptain