The political posturing continues as every group and facet of population that uses the great outdoors in the Greater Yellowstone Area will soon take a stand on the delisting of grizzly bears. Last year we saw the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee recommend delisting the Yellowstone population and move towards state management of the animal. The Eastern Shoshone, one of two tribal councils that manage the Wind River Indian Reservation business affairs, unanimously opposed hunting the bear inside the Reservation even with delisting. The Northern Arapahoe tribe has not taken a stand on the issue and whether or not they will is an unknown. But based on their recent decision to dissolve economic ties with the other tribe on the reservation it wouldn’t be unlikely for them to take a starkly opposite stand.
If this small subgroup population is any prediction of the battle to come, get ready! The lines are going to be drawn and make no mistake about it, this won’t be a battle about proven scientific methods that support the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. It will be about how long the green groups can keep money rolling into their organizations from the people in metropolitan areas who believe in the cause but don’t have to live with the outcome. The donors may be well intentioned, but they have no idea that the fight they are funding isn’t actually about sound game management – it’s about their money and emotions.
Their money is now employing lawyers to keep the battle over wolves going. Adding the grizzly to the court’s docket may just be their next meal ticket when the wolf battle starts to wane yet again. Like anything else, people will get bored hearing about the wolf and how it is in such a sad state of affairs since protections have been removed. When the mainstream media is reporting that wolves have moved from Yellowstone and have established packs in Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, it is hard to say they are endangered. To make matters worse for their cause, wolf sightings are happening in Colorado and Utah. Pull out the atlas and take a hard look at how much territory that is. That isn’t something that is on the brink of death, it is imperial expansion at it’s finest.
So old humpy will be the next cry for money with the green groups to keep their bank accounts full. All the while, hunters who have been footing the bill since the turn of the century for wildlife management have their voices squashed by judges in D.C. who see cuddly bears as an icon of the American West. They are correct that they are an icon, but even icons need to be managed with healthy quotas in place.
So the battlefield is set and it will be up to us as hunters to make our voices heard loud and clear that we want to manage the grizzly bear. We don’t want to eradicate them or put them on the brink of extinction. We want to have the freedom to hunt them, teach them to respect humans in the same way they command respect from us. Ultimately, we will claim another success story for the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.