USFWS to Delist the Yellowstone Ecosystem Grizzly Bear

 

bear boxes

Bear Boxes

Hello Everyone,
, .  We wanted to send you out a word or two on that decision and how we will move forward as well as some updates on what we are doing on the ground In Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.

I am honestly writing this to you all with the proudest smile on my face as YCBHA has finally began to take significant strides in ensuring a future for bears and bear hunters.   We are putting money and boots on the ground in an effort to make sure the make sure everyone in the Rocky Mountain West knows there is a damn passionate group of bear hunters and sportsmen out there with a voice.  We have been very successful in some markets taking projects from some very “green” anti-hunting groups and are in fact now fulfilling those projects ourselves.  Hunters and Sportsmen helping with conservation, education, and hunter opportunity is the way it should be!

First a quick comment on the grizzly situation.  FINALLY! We are beyond excited for the future and there has been so much work well before we even showed up to make this happen. I want you all to understand that the state agencies that have been responsible for the Feds bear are really the ones who we need to applaud on this. Years of work and research have gone into this and we know a few folks who spent the better part of their careers working on getting this bear recovered.  To those of you who worked so hard day in and day out we thank you! We however cannot yet burn the boats, this fight is far from over and no doubt there will be a continued effort on opponents to tie this up in court and appeal. Stay diligent and stay involved, as time goes by and things come up we will issue statements and contact you all via email with ways to help.

We must also clear a few things up on the delisting proposal.  First off this is a proposal to delist the Yellowstone Population and those bears residing in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.  The Northern Continental Divide population is not included in this and those bears, hopefully not for very long will in fact remain on the ESL.  This first round and the success and effort by all parties involved will no doubt dictate the pace of the USFWS when it comes to delisting other populations. Right now the Northern Continental Divide Population is the only other one with a sustainable population.  What happens from here on out in the GYE will really effect how things move forward in other populations.

Secondly we need to address the hunting seasons that will possibly come with this delisting.  One of the five founding principles for YCBHA is and has always been “Work with local, state, & federal governments to delist the grizzly bear & manage the growing population through hunting seasons in the states of Montana, Idaho, & Wyoming”. The idea of hunting these great animals in our home states is one we all have dreamed of and no doubt some of you will realize that dream. We have really envisioned this day for many, many years but as we said before we would be naive to think the fight is over.

There is already a ton of rhetoric out there by groups saying that these hunting seasons will decimate the population and we will have no bears left in the GYE.  This is in fact a complete line of B.S… The Game and Fish departments in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming who will have control of these bears will simply never allow the number of these bears to dip below objective due to hunting.  Once these bears are of the list we simply CAN NEVER LET THEM BACK ON THE ESL!! That means we all have to be patient and realize we may not see a hunting season for a few years and there is a great possibility that we won’t see hunting seasons every year.  The bottom line is the bear cannot go back on the ESL so we have to trust in our agencies to do the right thing and manage this bear for a SUSTAINABLE population.

We must be responsible sportsman and advocates for the long term sustainability of the bear. There has been so many folks who have lost money, livestock, clients, etc. and due to the way the bear had to be managed all of our hands were tied. We realize there is much animosity due to the way things have happened with grizzly bears in the past but the ball is going to be in our court now, we can decide how this bear is managed and we must not fail!  All states already have a tag fee on the books as it was required in initial management plans but the amount of bears each state will allow to be taken through hunting seasons and how those tags will be allocated is yet to be determined. Be prepared for very high fees and limited quota permits. That being said the dream is very close to becoming a reality and we are beyond excited about what is yet to come!

Sorry for this lengthy email but we want to just touch on a few more things before we let you go. We have been pretty active already this year, particularly in Wyoming where in cooperation with The Wyoming Game and Fish Department YCBHA will be placing 8 bear resistant containers in campsite and trailhead areas in the Dubois, WY area.  We purchased the 8 boxes with help from a grant we received from the Memorial Bear Fund.  We plan on placing these units in the ground for everyone to utilize as soon as bear season wraps up this June.  Our hopes are to get additional funding for projects like this in Montana and Idaho as well. These boxes are very effective in mitigating human bear conflict and keeping bears from becoming human conditioned.  One human conditioned bear becomes a management issue and will likely be removed, that’s one less bear in the population for us bear hunters.  On top of that any areas within Grizzly Recovery Areas have food storage orders that can make recreating in this areas a little more complicated.  These boxes are tested at the Grizzly/Wolf Discover center in West Yellowstone, MT by actual bears and are approved bear resistant by the Inter-Agency Grizzly Bear Committee.

We also very happy to report that last year in a small area in Western Wyoming the Wyoming Game and Fish Dept. collared 6 black bears in an attempt to better understand black bears and on the ground management.  It’s a small sample of bears and a small piece of the puzzle but it’s a piece that has not existed for years and we are thrilled to see more time and money being spent on black bear research.  We had the absolute privilege of accompanying some of the Large Carnivore guys in Wyoming on a quest to replace a faulty collar on one of these bears 2 weeks ago.  What an experience it was to be a part of that, we located a mature boar black bear in his den and successfully placed a new telemetry collar on the bear. The large carnivore team that we were with where absolute first class professionals, we were completely impressed with their passion for wildlife and their jobs.  This was no easy task that involved an absolutely grueling vertical ascent on snow shoes, snow slides, steep hills, cold and snow. All of which did not hinder the team or their efforts to locate one single bear buried under 4 feet of snow on a North facing slope in Western Wyoming. We have been pretty vocal when it comes to the need for more black bear research in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, to see these guys out there executing on such a study is a remarkable first step in our continued fight for more focus on black bears.

Lastly we will be continuing our Disabled Hunter Bear Hunt Program this year and are expanding that program into Idaho.  With the help of some wonderful volunteers we will be taking Jake Simmons on his first bear hunt this May. Jake is such a great guy and we have the highest of hopes he will harvest a bear this spring. We will be updating you all with some more exciting news on this hunt as we get closer.  We will also be continuing the Disabled Hunter program in Wyoming with another great hunt this spring.  Last year was fantastic and we had a great time with Dustin Shilcox. We are not allowed to use the same location this year so we are still working out the details of this hunt location, stay tuned.

We are always looking for programs and opportunities out there folks.  If you or anyone you know has anything you would like to see us be doing shoot us a note, we can definitely take a look at it. We need to put more manpower and money out there and are desperately looking for engaging pro-active volunteers to fill some rolls within our growing 501 c3 non-profit so if that is you please let us know.  A huge thank you to everyone who has been there so much for YCBHA, this is your organization and you should all be proud of the great things happening.  We are only as strong as our members and volunteers!  I hope this all finds you well, there are some parts of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming that are experiencing some early spring temps. Green grass is popping and bears are emerging. There will some great opportunity out there to do some early spring bear hunting. Good Luck to you all this year.

Joe Kondelis | President
Yellowstone Country Bear Hunters Assoc. | P.O. Box 2044 Cody, WY 82414
www.ycbearhunters.org

**Photos courtesy of Ken Mills

 

robertson bear boxes

Robertson Bear Boxes

 

Dan Bjornlie Large Carnivore Biologist working Telemetry

Dan Bjornlie Large Carnivore Biologist working Telemetry

Den Located on steep North Facing slope

Den Located on steep North Facing slope

Den Located under tree

Den Located under tree

Outside looking in at bear prior to placing new collar

Outside looking in at bear prior to placing new collar

Final shot of bear prior to covering entrance. Note new collar

Final shot of bear prior to covering entrance. Note new collar

 

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