By INNA PATRICK, Ph.D.
The proposal to hunt a lonesome male grizzly bear in Eastern Idaho is not in the public interest. There is no scientific proof that killing a single bear is “wildlife management.” It certainly is not a hunting season.
Idaho F&G does not want to provide protected habitat for large predators such as bears and wolves, because the position of the State is pro-development. This is how we ended up being the fastest growing state in the nation this year.
Idaho Fish and Game proposes to shoot a single grizzly bear as he or she ventures out of the protection afforded by the Yellowstone National Park. That’s akin to fishing at the mouth of the fish hatchery or shooting tame pheasants as they are released from cages (some call that hunting).
I visited Yellowstone National Park four times. While dining at the Lodge, the guests were informed of passing bears. Most diners jumped up and left their dinners to go outside. That speaks tons about us. Our food is plentiful, but our wildlife is scarce.
The population of Grizzly Bears before European settlers arrived in North America is estimated at 50,000 to 100,000. Now, there are about 700 grizzlies in the Yellowstone area, and a few dozen in Idaho. Does that mean Idaho has one “extra” grizzly? I think tens of thousands of them are missing from America’s lands.Tens of years and millions of public dollars went into the species recovery effort. To now allow hunting, is to destroy the public investment in the program, destroy the public trust in Idaho’s ability to manage the grizzlies, and to betray the public interest in keeping our wildlife not just recovering, but thriving.
It will cost the state less to keep the grizzly protected, than to manage the grizzly program while allowing hunting. Most people in Idaho do not benefit from hunting grizzlies.
A F&G survey found there are twice as many wildlife watchers as hunters. Idaho’s tourism promotions don’t say “Come see dead bears”. They show images of Idaho’s pristine nature. Most tourists want to see the part of Idaho that has been preserved by its thoughtful people, not a dead bear.
Idaho’s Senator Risch recently tried to oppose the naming of the White Clouds Wilderness area for the legendary Idahoan Cecil Andrus. What I take from that story, is that the only thing that Risch will be remembered for is poor judgement and rude behavior. Andrus’ name will live on as an environmentalist and outdoorsman.
Fish and Game biologists will present proposed grizzly bear hunting season options for Commission action at a May 10 meeting in McCall. One can only hope they have good judgement and value the grizzly as part of our pristine environment just as Andrus did.
I ask the Fish and Game Commissioners to be the leaders that Idaho needs, and to keep the grizzlies protected. The ONLY potential justification to a grizzly hunt would be “rogue bears” who attack humans or livestock.
Let the beauty and abundance of Idaho be perpetual.
EDITOR NOTE–You can see the proposed regulations and answer a F&G survey HERE. It would appear to the GUARDIAN that administration of the application process, returning fees to those hunters not selected for the single permit, and related meetings would far outweigh any costs recouped by a license fee.
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