Review of Wyoming grizzly bear rules draws opinions

 

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — A public meeting on proposed regulations for state management of grizzly bears in Wyoming drew differing opinions on whether hunting of the bears should be allowed in some areas.

About 130 people showed up for the meeting held Tuesday by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Some speakers spoke against any hunting of grizzly bears, saying the bears can't recognize when they are in areas safe from hunting and when they are not, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reported (http://bit.ly/1ZUlADq).

Part-time Hoback resident Bill Addeo came to the defense of hunters, saying it is in their interest to not reduce the number of bears.

"I think that this confrontation between hunters and non-hunters is silly because we both want the same thing," Addeo said. "Hunters do not want to wipe out the bears."

Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris owner Jason Williams hoped that people on opposite sides of the issue could work together to craft an effective plan that protects bears in places such as Jackson Hole while allowing hunting elsewhere.

"I'd also like to recognize that potential grizzly hunting may be a good business opportunity for people outside of our area," Williams said. "For the outfitters here, please know that there's a way to move forward without tripping on each other."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed lifting protections for the more than 700 grizzlies around Yellowstone National Park. The bears have been considered a threatened species since 1975, but federal wildlife officials say that population has sufficiently recovered to turn over management to Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

Management of the bears could include hunting to help control their spread outside their established habitat in the Yellowstone area.

Wyoming's draft regulations would criminalize killing grizzlies outside of hunting seasons or designated hunt areas as well as killing sows with dependent young. The regulations require that hunter-killed grizzlies in the ecosystem core be accounted for when setting hunting seasons the next year. The rules would also make hunters report their kills within 24 hours.

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